Based on the lectures by Sri Bimal Mohanty|
Man has always been interested in matters of deep spiritual quest. There is not a single individual who does not entertain in some corner of his or her heart, a desire to know the mystic aspects of spiritualism. Whether a believer or non-believer, all of them some time or other have questioned of the unknown. Since beginning of human civilization this has been a part of human nature.
Why this is so? Because over years of questioning and quest for answers to the life’s imponderables starting from Sage Vasisthas to Lord Buddhas, the collective wisdom of human mind has discovered that the spiritual way of living is the way to fulfillment in life. It is worth repeating- The spiritual way of living is the way to fulfillment in life.
All of us can find fulfillment while remaining fully involved and engaged in our day today activities, and not outside this life itself. It is simply reorienting oneself to be in conformity with the divine and natural way of things and find in life tranquility and bliss. It is the only way life is meant to be lived.
There have been always two kinds of people. One kind who harbor in their heart an all consuming desire for acquiring deeper and deeper knowledge about spiritual and supramental subjects and are constantly seeking answers to expand their horizon of knowledge. They are ever unsatiated with their hunger for more knowledge and always seeking the final truth and its realization.
Then there is the other kind and this is the vast majority who are also sincere about their spiritual progress but being fully involved in their worldly existence and daily work, constantly question the relevance of all knowledge from their practical view point. They are not exactly satisfied with knowledge for knowledge sake but advocate a firm view that knowledge has to have total relevance to life itself.
The mankind is ever grateful to both groups of people. While the former is responsible for all the wisdom that we possess today, the latter’s efforts have helped us to translate this knowledge into the life we live and is responsible for the quality of life that differentiates man from the lower beings.
Both these groups are ever unsatiated in their own sphere and thank Lord for that, for out of this dissatisfaction greater benefits are constantly flowing to the rest of mankind.
Most of us belong to the second category.
There is a very burning question in the minds of us as to whether actually we are spiritual in our thoughts and deeds when it comes to our everyday conduct. In our homes, in our offices in our dealings with other people, with our own self, do we practice any degree of spiritualism? We attend a good many discourses religiously and listen to religious talks. We read many books and fill our minds with a great deal lot of Adhyatmic or spiritual knowledge. Ask any one and you will get the answer that our real development lies in our being able to rediscover and follow the path of spiritual realization. Yet the irony is such that in the present day context our activities of daily life are indeed too far distanced from any spiritual undertone which was once a way of life for most of our ancestors in the past.
We talk of the great Indian heritage. Our heritage is not that we once possessed and still possess a great amount of learning. But the strength of our heritage is that, this learning was in all sincerity, once guided every action in our society.
If life has to be lived in its true sense and in full measure, then it must be managed well within an effective framework and guiding principles. These guiding principles are contained in the Adhyatmic philosophy or the spiritual knowledge. As we go along the following chapters, it will be clearer how this is so. But the undeniable truth is that to whatever origin we owe our existence, our life, the same origin logically, must dictate the best way to manage the life. As we have theories and principles of management for different activities of life, there are also principles of management of life itself. It is indeed a pity, that while we seek acquiring degrees and diplomas in various management sciences relating temporary activities in life, these principles of management of life in its essential nature, do not interest us greatly. The present civilisation is always after trees and not the forest.
Where as, the history is witness, that in this part of the world atleast, there was a time when this management knowledge or Spiritual knowledge or the Adhyatmic knowledge had not only reached a highly refined state, but was also got inseparably mixed with the day to day life itself. Having this knowledge and then putting this into practice, people were able not only to deal with the challenges of life but were indeed able to enrich life. With highly developed value systems they could lift themselves from miseries and tensions to a state of peace and bliss. They knew that with spiritual knowledge as the reference point and guiding principle, all problems of life can be tackled. Not only tackled, but can also be solved – and solved efficiently. In simple words – they knew how to manage their lives. In contrast, today, have we not all noticed what a tremendous gap lies in the lives of people when it comes to acquiring the knowledge and in putting them to practice? People simply have forgotten how to manage their lives.
The knowledge is misunderstood and the practice is absent. As a result, we now question the very validity of this knowledge. Some in their gross ignorance and unable to cope with the demands of life, mechanically pursue the rituals and superstitions. All these lead to no where. That is why religion has lost its practicality and its rightful place in life.
Interestingly the great seers of our ancient times, the intellectual thinkers who shaped our spiritual heritage were indeed not knaive so as not to understand that such situations would always arise. They knew that the same mystic aspects, the supramental concepts, the rigid ritualities which are essentially needed to sustain any religion, also possess within them the danger of appearing as great obstacles unless properly understood. They knew that unless fully comprehended people would question the validity of all knowledge, which is not apparently practical.
To the credit of the intellectual strength of the Vedantic philosophy, (the philosophy of The Vedas) great emphasis has always been laid throughout our scriptures on understanding and true realization of all that is said rather than blindly following the dictats or rulings. Where one’s own Buddhi or discerning ability - has not actively participated, the knowledge remains still veiled. The Sanatan Hindu Dharma or the universal religion which draws its sustenance from the Vedantic philosophy is never meant to be an imposed way of life but has to be, as pithily described in the word used in The Gita, ‘Buddhigrahya acceptable to the intelligence - lest it be discarded as impractical due to poor understanding.( The expression Sanatana Hindu Dharma mentioned here and which we shall use often afterwards needs some explanation. The word Sanatana , simply means that which is universal irrespective of its religious bias. Some thing which applies to most, always and without conditions, is Sanatana. We should derive that meaning only because that happens to be the core strength of the philosophy that we are discussing here. It is so universal that no matter what faith one may follow it would lend its appeal. Also the word Hindu that we use does not mean that it is a discussion on the so called hindu religion only. This philosophy happens to have sprouted from this country – the hindustan. Yet such a profound knowledge can not be kept restricted to India or even the orient. The heritage of this knowledge belongs to the entire humanity. While talking of the Sanatan hindu philosophy this broad perspective should always be kept in mind. )
Lord Krishna advises his disciple Arjuna, ‘Buddhau saranam anvichcha’. Fall back on your understanding. Mere reading, listening or reciting of a mantra would lead us no where. It may even lead us to confusion and aversion unless the true meaning of all that is expounded, is understood first.
While talking of people like you and me, one could be a very knowledgeable person in his study of religion and spiritualism. One might have read all Sri Aurobindos, Swami Vivekanandas, or Shankaracaryas , one might be a daily reciter of Gita and Upanishads, yet one could be far from being a developed human being if this knowledge does not mix with life and inspire right living.
In other words, not only we should have knowledge, we should have that knowledge brought to use in our practical daily life. The knowledge must be put to work for our development. That is what Sri Aurobindo means when he says that knowledge per se has no use if it is not beneficial.
Some one told a nice little story which drives home this point. A poor old lady once lived in her hut was trying to mend her torn cloth with a thread and needle. The room was dark because she was too poor to afford oil for the lamp. And she lost the needle. Much she tried to find the needle in the dark she could not do so. Then she realised that there is sun light outside her room and she thought if I can not find the needle in the darkness, I must go and search for it in the brightness outside. She went out and started searching the needle. Obviously she failed. The light outside was of no use to her as long as it does not illumine the inside of her hut.
Many of us often go to great lengths to acquire knowledge – a great deal of knowledge – and become pundits. Yet we fail to make use of this knowledge in our life and remain as undeveloped as ever. What is the difference between such kinds of us and that old lady? We should all ask this question to ourselves truthfully.
It is important to acquire knowledge, but more important is to translate them continuously into life. A yogi is he, who does precisely that. He is constantly in touch and established in this knowledge and accordingly orients all his actions for the entire duration of his life. This is to be understood from Sri Aurobindo’s famous words “All Life is Yoga” It is meant to be a continuous Yoga.
As a matter of fact acquiring knowledge, constant engagement with the ordained work, practicing great austerity, are, though extremely important facets of our philosophy, are really not the objective. The practical objective is to become a Yogi. Yogi is he who leads life constantly engaged in Yoga. What is Yoga? Yoga is constant adhearance to the path of Dharma or righteousness that we must continuously walk upon to reach the ultimate stage of development.
What is the ultimate stage of development? – It is Satchidananda – the pure and absolute truth, its realization and the ensuing pure bliss. Yoga (which also means engagement) is to remain constantly engaged in pursuit of this ultimate consciousness. It is immaterial as to which path one chooses. But the goal of ultimate development is fixed.
The acquiring of the knowledge – jnAna, the act of engagement in work – karma and the act of practicing austerity tapas, are essential ingredients for a Yogi to remain rooted to Yoga or Dharma and practice them in life itself. As lord Krishna said in The Bhagavad Gita:
TasmAt Yogi bhavArjuna:
Nothing is more important than being engaged in Yoga. Not tapas, not jnAna, nor karma. All these three and any other variations of Yoga, must get translated into life to make life nothing but Yoga all the time. Hence Arjuna, remain a yogi all the time.
How do we achieve this happens to be the biggest problem.
Author Bio :
From Ahwanm the spiritual approach to life by Sri Bimal Mohanty. http://www.ahwan.org/index.php
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