The Lord stated in the Gita, "Only when you renounce all selfishness and attachment, only when you treat joy and sorrow with an equal mind and practice forbearance in all circumstances, will you become my devotee and very dear to me."
To have an equal mind, to be free of attachments and concern for yourself and your family, is difficult for ordinary spiritual seekers. Particularly for householders, such equanimity of mind and detachment is almost impossible. They are able to worship God through the various types of spiritual practices which have been prescribed in the scriptures. But for them to destroy their ego and remove all sense of I-ness and my-ness would be very difficult. Why is that so? It is difficult to eliminate the ego as long as you differentiate your own will from the command and will of the Lord. You have doubts and are unable to surrender because you see others and the world as separate from God. It is only when you recognize that God is dwelling in all people everywhere, in the form of an ever luminous light shining in the temple of their hearts, that you will be able to eliminate your egoism and surrender fully to God. Once you recognize the all-pervasive unity of the Lord you will have no difficulty following him. Know that the self-effulgent flame of God's presence which resides in all people also resides in you. The one who protects all people is an integral part of your own form.
From time immemorial, the inquiry has been going on whether or not God exists. Once you have convinced yourself that he exists, the next step is to find the way to reach him. Just as was true in ancient times, this problem of how and where to find God has become a perplexing question for mankind today. To solve this problem, numerous sages made a determined effort to use all their skills and their penance to find the solution. These sages revealed where they searched and how they came to know about the existence of the effulgent Lord. They declared to the world at large:
"O citizens, we have been able to perceive the transcendental principle which exists beyond this visible and created world. It will not be found in the external world or in outer space, but only within your own inner self. It is there in your inner vision within your soul, in the sacred heart inside your deepest self. It is there that the blissful Lord resides."
This was their great discovery, that God dwells within the body itself. God is the imperishable one who lives within the perishable body. The body is inert; it does not know itself. In the Gita, God has been called the knower of the body and the one who gives consciousness to the body. To penetrate through the veils of ignorance that hide your truth, you must make a determined effort to discover the immortal Lord residing resplendently in your mortal body. Not only must you find the Lord installed in your own body and the bodies of other creatures, but you must also find him installed in every object, in every thing. He is the indweller of all the five elements, space, air, fire, water and earth. He is the very basis of the creation.
To find a diamond you must dig deep within the earth. You will not find it hanging outside on a tree. In the same way, you will not find this most valuable diamond which is the Lord, lying around somewhere outside, easily visible to all. With the help of the teachings of great souls you will have to make the effort to find God within. The body is not an ordinary thing. It is the temple of God, it is a chariot which carries the Lord. In the world, which can be thought of as a grand village, the Lord is being taken in procession everywhere in this chariot called the body.
Since the body is the temple of the Lord, it is not proper to be indifferent towards it or to neglect it, or to use it in an inappropriate or unrighteous manner. The body must be used only to perform activities which are sacred and selfless. You must take good care of the body and sanctify it by using it to do holy tasks. The body is inert no doubt, but within it lives the principle which is pure consciousness. This body may be compared to a boat which will help you cross the ocean of worldly existence. This body was not so easily obtained by you. Because of innumerable merits and numerous births in other forms, you have been able to obtain this human body. To use it improperly is to waste all the merits you have earned in all those countless lives.
It is your extraordinary good fortune to have been able to get this birth as a human being. Therefore, this sacred boat which can take you to your destination, has to be used very carefully so that you can cross the ocean of worldly existence safely. In this ocean there are terrible crocodiles and all kinds of terrifying creatures which are very harmful to you. These menacing crocodiles are the six inner enemies of man, in the form of lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and jealousy. They inhabit this unfathomable ocean of worldly existence at every level.
The water of this ocean of world existence which supports all these horrendous creatures, is made up of a mixture of opposites like joy and grief, attraction and repulsion. When you are in this ocean of life it is very difficult to say when you will obtain happiness and when you will suffer pain. When you are beset with so many crocodiles, the very best means for completing this journey safely is to see the unity in everything. You have to firmly believe that the divine principle, the godhead in the form of the self-effulgent flame, resides in everybody and in every thing. Once you recognize the presence of God dwelling in everyone, once the unity is recognized in all this apparent diversity, then you will no longer be able to hate anyone. That is why in the Gita the injunction, show no hatred towards any being is given first place.
The various acts of ritual worship, such as singing devotional songs and repeating the holy name, which at one time may have seemed so important to you, will seem very small in comparison, once you recognize this principle of God dwelling in every heart. It is only when you are ignorant of this great truth, that you consider the various devotional practices as paramount in your spiritual life. However, until you have mastered the art of swimming there is a need to use various flotation-aids for support. Once you have learned to swim, these aids will no longer be necessary. In the same way, all the various ritual practices are necessary until you truly understand the meaning of the Gita. Once you have comprehended the sweet essence of the Gita, all these rituals will appear quite trivial.
In the chapter on devotion in the Gita, the noble characteristics that endear a devotee to God are described. It is emphasized there that once the six inner enemies of man are brought under control, these characteristics will naturally blossom forth in the individual. Can this ever be done easily? Yes. These six enemies can be readily conquered once you recognize the truth that the one God resides in all of the five elements everywhere, and that it is he who activates all beings. Before you recognize this and experience it, you will not realize true satisfaction in anything you undertake.
If you keep some salt in your mouth then even if you try to swallow some sweet juice, you will still get the taste of salt. First you have to get rid of the salt and wash your mouth well, then you will be able to taste the sweetness. When the salt is gone you can enjoy the full unpolluted sweetness of the juice you have taken in. Similarly, it is only when you are able to conquer the ego by removing all the bad traits which have become an integral part of you, that you will be able to enjoy the sweetness of compassion, the sweetness of sacrifice, the sweetness of charity, the sweetness of sympathy and the sweetness of divine love.
To begin with, try to understand what true devotion really means. Devotion means an all-absorbing love for God. When you develop devotion and turn all your love towards God, everything that is necessary will be added unto you. You will develop the capacity to sacrifice yourself. You will expand in love. Love is the very life breath of a human being. Without love you cannot live. Love is a very sacred quality. As was referred to earlier, a great sage in ancient times told his wife, "All the love that you have is really for the sake of your higher self. Love is not for the sake of others but only for the higher self." But all too frequently, through delusion, this sacred love for the atma, the one self, is diverted towards the body. Everywhere in the world we find this disease of identification with the body.
Many of the enjoyments you experience in life are really just the relief you feel when you temporarily soothe the pains of a disease you are suffering. For example, you think that taking food is an enjoyment, but it is really only a medicine. Food is the medicine for the disease of hunger. When you give the medicine the disease is temporarily forgotten. You cook many varieties of delicious food and consider the taste of these prepared dishes to be most enjoyable, but that is not the real purpose for which you take food. As you know, medicines are sometimes given in the form of a mixture which contains some sweetener to make it more palatable. In the same way, to treat the disease of hunger there will be a meal containing a mixture of ingredients, some of which are particularly flavorful and pleasant to the taste. But in the final analysis, the meal can only be thought of as a form of medicine to treat the disease of hunger that afflicts you. After you have eaten, the symptoms of the disease disappear. Similarly, when you take some cool water, the symptoms of the disease of thirst disappear.
We have previously discussed the six inner enemies of man: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and jealousy. They can also be described as desire, hatred, possessiveness, infatuation, arrogance, and envy. These are the most deep-seated diseases of mankind. It is only when you engage in practices which serve as medicines to counteract these diseases, that they will diminish and disappear. During your whole life you have been deluded into thinking that you are enjoying different types of pleasures, but in fact you are afflicted with these diseases. Until you recognize that the resident of the body is God, you will continue to be burdened by these diseases and the sufferings they bring.
All spiritual practices can only be done with the help of the body. All the education that you have acquired has been obtained by means of the body. The magnificence and extraordinary characteristics of God have been learned through the facility of the body. Taking the body as the basis, you have to make an all-out effort to see the Lord inside it. Do not keep thinking that God resides somewhere, in another world. He actually is present in the body itself. Sin does not exist in some distant world far away; it depends upon the actions that you perform with your body. Both your merit and demerit are the result of the actions you performed with the help of your body. You have to make an incessant search, a serious attempt, to find God inside your own body.
Only when you knock at the door will the master inside open it. Even your own mother will serve you food only when you ask her for it. Therefore, you will have to ask and go on asking, knock on the door and go on knocking, search and go on searching, seek and go on seeking. If you search for God within you, with all earnestness, you will surely be able to find him. If you go to a room where a great number of articles are stored, it is only if you search carefully that you will be able to find the particular article for which you are looking. Without searching you will never find the article you want. Therefore, it is said, 'Seek, seek, and it shall be found; knock, knock, and the door shall be opened.'
Perhaps you feel that you have already been knocking at the door for a long time and it has not opened for you. But find out if you have been knocking at the right door. Are you knocking at the door of liberation, or are you knocking at the door of attachment? Are you knocking at the door where God is residing or are you knocking at the door where the devil is dwelling? Whom are you approaching? In whom are you taking shelter? Are you asking the most merciful one, the one who comes in human form and holds out his own life as an example? Are you asking the mother of the universe? Are you asking for food from her, or are you asking for food from the devil?
You may even be looking at the Lord, but you are not asking for the divinity itself. No doubt, you are praying to God, but you are asking for petty material things and worldly things. You are at the wish-fulfilling tree and you are asking for trivial coffee powder. You have to pray for the wish fulfilling tree to grant you the transcendental principle which will fill you forever with eternal bliss.
Your devotion must go on increasing and progressing, keeping in mind the firm belief that God is residing inside your own body. If you want to seek and search for the Lord who is residing inside you, you have to turn your vision inwards. How should you aspire for the Lord? You have to cry the way a calf cries for its mother who has left it and gone off with the herd. You have to cry like a chaste woman who has lost her husband and wails in pain at the separation. You have to cry in the way that a childless couple implores and pleads with God for a child. This is how you should pray to the Lord, full of devotion, longing to realize his presence within you.
But today, most of your prayers are filled with pompous words, devoid of feeling. Inside the mind there is one thing, on your lips there is something else. It is only when you synchronize the thoughts in your mind with the words in your mouth, that your words can turn into prayer and become effective. Then you must put your prayers into practice. When your activities in daily life are coordinated with your thoughts and words then your prayers can become worship; and when you achieve full unity in thought, word and action then you become a great soul.
You have to examine yourself to see whether you are following this path of harmony in thought, word and deed. When you examine yourself honestly you may find that most of the time these three, thought, word and deed, will be going off in three different directions, without any unity between them. When thoughts are different, words are different and actions are different, you have the characteristics of a demon, not of a saint. Such disharmony will not benefit you nor endear you to the Lord.
Whatever thoughts you have, they will bring you the corresponding results. Whatever you are feeling will be reflected in your way of talking and acting. In the very first place, you must endeavor to purify your feelings. You have to make your love pure. To do so you have to develop forbearance, which is a serene patience and self-restraint under all circumstances, giving good to all, even to those who may want to harm you. There is nothing greater than having this quality of forbearance. Forbearance is equivalent to truth itself, forbearance is the heart of righteousness, forbearance is the very essence of the ancient wisdom, forbearance is nonviolence in practice, forbearance is contentment, it is compassion. Truly, forbearance is everything in all the worlds. Only when you have developed patience and forbearance will you be able to obtain the Lord.
Now, over minor insignificant things you lose your temper and become ridden with tension. Anger and temper are dangerous. They can ruin your life. If you suffer from anger you will not be able to achieve anything worthwhile. You will be looked upon with disgust and derision. You will lose your wealth. All the honors you have enjoyed will turn to ashes. Your anger will even separate you from those who are closest to you. Because of anger people lose everything, and their life becomes a waste. Therefore, in the Gita, Krishna taught the principle of love and the need to cultivate love to counter hatred, jealousy, anger and all the other bad traits that cause so much harm to you.
Love knows no hatred.
Love is free from all selfishness.
Love is far removed from anger.
Love never takes; it knows only giving.
Love is God.
You can experience God through Love alone
If you want God, you will have to develop this sacred quality of love. Only through love will you be able to experience him, who is love itself.
If you want to see the moon there is no need to use a candle or a torch light. The light of the moon is enough to see the moon. If you want to see God you need only to immerse yourself in love. Fill yourself with love and you will surely succeed in acquiring God. But as long as this love has not yet become clearly established, there is a need for spiritual practices such as devotional singing, repetition of the name of God, and other forms of worship. Once pure love has developed these spiritual practices are no longer necessary.
Yet, even when the moon shines brightly, you will not be able to see it if your eyes are closed. In the same way, if your eyes are still closed to the loving presence of God within you, then good actions, including the various spiritual exercises, will help open your eyes and clarify your vision, so that you can see and enjoy the Lord. That is the import of Krishna's teaching in the Gita.
Only when you listen to such great words, and only when you understand them clearly, and only when you practice them, will you be able to reach your divine goal. Set aside at least one hour per day to study these teachings and incorporate them in all your daily activities. In so doing you will be using your time wisely and you will be sanctifying your life.
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