Prerequisites Of Spiritual Sadhana
By Sri Swami Sivananda Maharaj
When we consider any question, a number of different aspects of the same question will have to be thought over if we are dealing with the matter so as to be complete. Usually it is some one of the aspects that gets the emphasis and others are missed because, according to the particular disposition of those who take up the subject, they lay stress upon certain aspects. It is natural when so many different Rishis have dealt in general about life – human life – what it constitutes, how it is impermanent, how its real goal is the achievement of Self-realisation or the vision of God, now, for instance, taking the Name of God, as the means to achieve this end, how Patanjali Maharshi has pointed out Yama, Niyama, Sama, Dama, etc., have to be practised, how we have to build the walls of Yama, Niyama, and the doors and windows of Sama, Dama to raise this mansion of Immortality. There is nothing you can call your own; everywhere life is impermanent; there is insecurity. Now these are all aspects; but then they have presented only the problem-side of the subject. There is the solution-aspect and here, too, the theory of the solution is one sub-aspect of this and the practice of the solution is yet another sub-aspect. When dealing with life, we put it as the problem of life, that is, sorrow, suffering, pain, and how to get rid of it, we should consider the solution, touch upon the various methods of Satsanga, taking His Name, Sama, Dama and Dharana. In the solution-aspect, the theory of the solution is present; but as spiritual aspirants, as sincere seekers, as all of you are, you want the practical side of the solution-aspect more than anything else. There are the two aspects. In books, for instance, there is the book that says, if you have got a certain trouble it can be cured by a course of such and such a medicine. This is like saying, “Vikshepa can be removed by Japa and Upasana.” But there is another book which says – if you have got this trouble, procure so many tolas of this medicine, purify it in this manner, mix it in this proportion, heat it up, let it be on the oven for so many minutes, mix it with such and such a thing – the detailed process of the solution is given so that anyone who reads it at once is able to act up to it. Information is different and complete explanation of the detail is different. Having now said that this practical aspect of the solution is all-important for earnest seekers, I shall put before you one or two points which are found to be most useful equipments for putting into practice this solution. When you actually start doing Sadhana, you find that various practical difficulties crop up. When you get the ingredients, supposing you grind them and find they do not mix properly, when you actually do certain things, some practical difficulties arise. These practical difficulties have to be dealt with on the spot. Thus, when we consider the aspect of Sadhana, we find one big difficulty for seekers, that is, they have to contend more with forces that are interior than forces that are exterior. For instance, among diseases we find that certain external conditions bring about certain diseases. We remove the external conditions by means of external forces – we clean the gutter; we spray the drain with anti-mosquito solution; we burn up refuse; we disinfect water; we inject people with anti-cholera vaccine; and we get over that disease. But here most of the forces you have to contend with are mental. Thus the big difficulty is that we cannot easily take the help of external agents to constantly keep a watch on these enemies as the Sanitary Department, for instance, and call them when they rise up. Therefore, while you carry on these spiritual practices like taking the Name of God, developing virtues, you have to develop a mental monitor; you have to train up a portion of the mind to act as a sort of ever vigilant guide. Immediately any forces come up to obstruct you; any bad thought, any anti-spiritual force; anything that is detrimental to your Sadhana crops up in your mental field; this mental monitor should be so trained that it should immediately strike and put down the adverse factor. This can come only through diligent cultivation and practice. Mind is so bad that every time you turn or direct it to a particular direction, the old Samskaras or Vrittis will ever be troubling you. Therefore, we have to put it down in a more severe manner. We have to get a mental monitor ready – which will at once check the anti-spiritual force that rises in him. If this mental monitor is kept, the process of Sadhana will be smoother; it will be greatly facilitated. This is like going through deep waters.
This ship of a seeker is like the ship that goes into enemy waters which are sown with depth-charges and mines. These mines are under the surface of the water; they are potential destructive weapons. We have heard that early in the War the Germans used the magnetic mine. The enemy ship would at once attract it as the ship is constructed with metal – the mine would be drawn towards it and destroy the ship. There are magnetic mines without number in this deep ocean of Samsara where we have to steer the ship. For this the only method is we have to take the precautions as they did towards the magnetic mine. What they did was – they perfected a method of completely insulating the ship which rendered it safe against the magnetic mine. This insulation made the magnetic mine useless. It was not attracted, even though it was there and even though the ship passed near it. Thus, while going through the path of Sadhana, we have to see that we have insulated ourselves with the insulation of aspiration and trust in God. If ever your aspiration is always climbing upwards, these forces fail to be attracted towards you. Only when your aspiration is not upwards, when you are still in the plane of sensual pleasures and desires that it easily attracts the sense-objects towards you and the sense-objects destroy the spiritual progress that you are trying to make. Having insulated, there is another precaution we have to take. We should make that ideal the main interest of our life. The seeker may have a hundred interests according to the position in which he is placed, his family circumstances, the society, the environments; yet, if he will do what the military experts do – supposing they wished to direct the course of a certain apparatus – say a torpedo, rocket bomb – to a certain destination, they set its course before it starts. Thus, in whatever circumstances the seekers are placed, in whatever professions, in whatever society, family environments, by God, let them fix the purpose of their life as Moksha, to attain Self-realisation; let them so set up this dial, so strongly implant this idea into their mind and constantly remember it day and night as the setting of the compass in this machine. They will see even though here and there ups and downs may come, there may be temporary obstacles to the flight in that course, due to overwhelming external circumstances, this one being established in his ideal and constantly remembering it he is not shaken by the vicissitudes of life in his march towards the goal. While in this passing towards the goal, in spite of insulation against external forces we have to see through the whole process. Man has got to be constantly in the field of activity. Because circumstances are like that. Man has to work. While working naturally it is the tendency of the human mind to take the colouring of that thing with which it comes into contact – a man living in a smoky room will be affected by the smoke. He will have his clothing blackened. But there is one thing: even though the currents of Raga and Dvesha affect man, let us see that there is a constant force which will keep our inner state always divine, equipoised, spiritual; actions will be there and the forces will act upon you, but you must so develop the technique that you must not react. It is when the man reacts to the action of external forces that he fails. Therefore, trouble comes. You have the rapidity of the machine gun, an incredible number of shots are fired within the split-second and the barrel gets terribly heated. If there were no device to keep down the temperature of the barrel the machine gun would at once melt. They have perfected the technique of warfare – a flow of cold oil is made to circulate round the barrel and the temperature of the machine gun is kept down. While coming in contact with Raga, Dvesha, lust, anger and greed, we have to see the friction does not ignite us. Let us always keep handy the cooling balm of Bhagavan’s Divine Name, and His reflection. Let us constantly keep this cooling balm ever close to us. Thus, it will ever keep our natures cool. It will not allow our natures to get heated. It will see that the spiritual equipoise is always kept. If there are certain vicious traits in man which he cannot escape, such things let him by a mere technique of transformation turn to his own use. During war the prisoners of war were caught; they were all enemies; but once they were caught as prisoners, they were made to work for our own benefit so that the soldiers of this nation may be fit. They were turned to the use of the victorious nation. We have got the nature of fault-finding. Everywhere we do not see the good. We always try to pick out defects. This is a great defect in spiritual aspirants; it retards spiritual progress. But this practice is there. Supposing the spiritual aspirant has it, let him not be very much upset about it. Supposing he turns this practice upon himself, he will see that this practice far from being an enemy, becomes his friend. He will have no time to think about the defects of others. He will be stunned in dealing with his own defects. Then he will see that even a mustard-seed of goodwill appear before his eyes because instituting a comparison with himself which is full of defects and shortcomings, he will find even small things in others a virtue.
Articles By Swami Sivananda:
- Swami Sivananda — Inspiring Svadhyaya for Aspirants
- Swami Sivananda — Waste Not This Rare Human Birth
- Swami Sivananda — Prerequisites of Spiritual Sadhana 1
- Swami Sivananda — Prerequisites of Spiritual Sadhana 2
- Swami Sivananda — Sadhana for Mastering the Mind