Scriptures, Prayers, Saints & Great Teachers related posts -worth sharing

Discussion in 'Religious places & Spiritual people' started by cheer, Nov 10, 2006.

  1. cheer

    cheer Silver IL'ite

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    Heaven and Hell
    From The Mahabharata
    Anusasana Parva, Section CXI
    Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Gangul

    Yudhishthira said: O grandsire, O thou that are
    possessed of great wisdom and conversant with all the
    scriptures. I desire to know those excellent
    ordinances in consequence of which mortal creatures
    have to travel through their rounds of rebirth. What
    is that conduct by following which, O king, men
    succeed in attaining to high Heaven, and what is that
    conduct by which one sinks in Hell? When abandoning
    the dead body that is as inert as a piece of wood or
    clod of earth, people proceed to the other world, what
    are those that follow them thither?

    Bhishma said: Here comes the illustrious Vrihaspati of
    great intelligence! Do thou ask his blessed self. The
    subject is an eternal mystery. None else is capable of
    explaining the matter. There is no speaker like

    Yudhishthira , approaching the illustrious Vrihaspati,
    asked him the question in proper form, desirous of
    knowing the truth.

    Yudhishthira said: O illustrious one, thou are
    conversant with all duties and all the scriptures, Do
    thou tell me what is truly the friend of mortal
    creatures? Is the father, or mother, or son, or
    preceptor, or kinsmen, or relatives, or those called
    friends, that may be said to truly constitute the
    friend of the mortal creature? One goes to the next
    world, leaving one's dead body that is like a piece of
    wood or a clod of earth. Who is it that follows him

    Vrihaspati said: One is born alone, O king, and one
    dies alone; one crosses alone the difficulties one
    meets with, and one alone encounters whatever misery
    falls to one’s lot. One has really no companion in
    these acts. The father, the mother, the brother, the
    son, the preceptor, kinsmen, relatives, and friends,
    leaving the dead body as if it were a piece of wood or
    a clod of earth, after having mourned for only a
    moment, all turn away from it and proceed to their own
    concerns. Only righteousness follows the body that is
    thus abandoned by them all. Hence, it is plain, that
    Righteousness is the only friend and that
    Righteousness only should be sought by all.

    One endued with righteousness would attain to that
    high end which is constituted by heaven. If endued
    with unrighteousness, he goes to hell. Hence, the man
    of intelligence should always seek to acquire
    religious merit through wealth won by lawful means.
    Piety is the one only friend which creatures have in
    the world hereafter. Let by cupidity, or stupefaction,
    or compassion, or fear, one destitute of much
    knowledge is seen to do improper acts, his judgement
    thus stupefied by cupidity.

    [Note: One that is not possessed of much learning is
    liable to do improper acts. These acts are all done
    for another, viz., one’s body and the senses and not
    oneself. The Sanskrit word para here is, the

    Piety, wealth and pleasure, - these three constitute
    the fruit of life. One should acquire these three by
    means of being free from impropriety and sin.

    Yudhishthira said: I have carefully heard the words
    spoken by thy illustrious self,-these words that are
    fraught with righteousness, and that are highly
    beneficial. I wish now to know of the existence of the
    body (after death). The dead body of man becomes
    subtile and unmanifest. It becomes invisible. How is
    it possible for piety to follow it?

    Vrihaspati said: Earth, Wind, Space, Water, Light,
    Mind, Yama (the king of the dead), Understanding, the
    Soul, as also Day and Night, all together behold as
    witness the merits (and demerits) of all living
    creatures. With these, Righteousness follows the
    creatures (when dead).

    [Note: When these leave the body, they are accompanied
    by Righteousness.<WBR>]

    When the body becomes bereft of life, skin, bones,
    flesh, the vital seed, and blood, O thou of great
    intelligence, leave it at same time. Endued with merit
    (and demerit) Jiva (Individual soul), after the
    destruction of this body, attains to another. After
    the attainment by Jiva of that body, the presiding
    deities of the five elements once more behold as
    witness all his acts good and bad. What else do thou
    wish to hear? If endued with righteousness, Jiva
    enjoys happiness. What other topic, belonging to this
    or that world, shall I discourse upon?

    Yudhishthira said: Thy illustrious self has explained
    how Righteousness follows Jiva. I desire to know how
    the vital seed is originated?

    Vrihaspati said: The food that these deities, O king,
    who dwell in the body, viz., Earth, Wind, Space,
    Water, Light, and Mind eat, gratifies them. When those
    five elements become gratified, O monarch, with Mind
    numbering as their sixth, their vital seed then
    becomes generated, O thou of cleansed soul! When an
    act of union takes place between male and female, the
    vital seed flows out and causes conception. I have
    thus explained to thee what thou hast asked. What else
    do you wish to hear?

    Yudhishthira said: Thou hast, O illustrious one, said
    how conception takes place. Do thou explain how the
    Jiva (individual soul) that takes birth grows (by
    becoming possessed of body)?

    Vrihaspati said: As soon as Jiva enters the vital
    seed, he becomes overwhelmed by the elements already
    mentioned. When Jiva becomes disunited therewith, he
    is said to attain to the other end (viz., death).
    Endued as Jiva becomes with all those elements, he
    attains, in consequence thereof, a body. The deities
    that preside over those elements behold as witness all
    his acts, good and bad. What else do you wish to hear?

    Yudhishthira said: Leaving off skin and bone and
    flesh, and becoming destitute of all those elements,
    in what does Jiva reside, O illustrious one, for
    enjoying and enduring happiness and misery?

    Vrihaspati said: Endued with all his acts, the Jiva
    quickly enters the vital seed, and utilizing the
    functional flow of women, takes birth in time, O
    Bharata. After birth, the Jiva receives woe and death
    from the messengers of Yama (god of death). Indeed,
    misery and painful round of rebirth are his
    inheritance. Endued with life, O king, the Jiva in
    this world, from the moment of his birth, enjoys and
    endures his own previous acts, depending upon
    righteousness (and its reverse). If the Jiva,
    according to the best of his power, follows
    righteousness from the day of his birth, he then
    succeeds in enjoying, when reborn, happiness without


  2. padmavathy

    padmavathy New IL'ite

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    Chanakya Raja Tantrams

    Hi Ladies..,

    Iam sure that we all know very well about Chanakya..,the great minister in Chandragupta maurya reign and its political raja tantra.,

    I have found some verses from his famouws book Arthasastra.,I think it will be interesting for u all to read.,
    These verses are very practical and even appilcable today.,

    "A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and
    Honest people are screwed first."
    Chanakya quotes (Indian politician, strategist and writer, 350 BC 75 BC

    "Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous."

    "The biggest guru-mantra is: Never share your secrets with anybody. !It will destroy you."

    "There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no Friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth."

    Before you startsome work, always ask yourself three questions -Why am I doing it, What theresults might be and Will I be successful.Only whenyou think deeply and findsatisfactory answers to these questions, goahead."

    "Assoon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it."

    "Theworld's biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman."

    "Onceyou start a working on something, don't be afraid of failureand don't abandonit. People who work sincerely are the happiest."

    "Thefragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodnessof a person spreads in all direction."

    "Whoresdon't live in company of poor men, citizens never support aweak company andbirds don't build nests on a tree that doesn't bearfruits."

    "Godis not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul isyour temple."

    "Aman is great by deeds, not by birth."

    "Never makefriends with people who are above or below you in status.Such friendships willnever give you any happiness."

    "Treatyour kid like a darling for the first five years. For the nextfive years, scoldthem. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like afriend. Your grown upchildren are your best friends."

    "Books are asuseful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to ablind person."

    "Educationis the best friend. An educated person is respectedeverywhere. Education beatsthe beauty and the youth."
  3. vidyasarada

    vidyasarada Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Padma
    Chanakya's wisdom is indeed impressive - so impressive that they are worth repeating !
    Please see Sonu_627's post, dated 4 Nov 2006
    :-D VS
  4. vmur

    vmur Silver IL'ite

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  5. Nischel

    Nischel Senior IL'ite

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    PART 1
    RAMA KRISHNA SAYS........means,
    The following lines are the sayings of RAMA KRISHNA PARAMA HAMSA,of BELUR matt CALCUTTA.
    They are....
    1) "A Poor Devotee Points To The Sky And says "GOD is up there"
    2) "An Average Devotee says GOD dwells in the heart as the
    Inner Master.
    3) "The Best Devotee Says,GOD alone is and EveryThing I perceive is a Form of GOD"
    By this Time Readers may understood the Idea of Sri RAMAKRISHNA PARAMAHANSA as they are self explonatory.
    But a brief explanation and commentary is given below.
    !) When a person constructed a big house,or performed a function in a grand manner etc and when we praise him about his ability, if he is a God minded Man he will say that
    "every thing is in the hands of the God,nothing is in my hands" showing his hands to the sky above.This means that that man is no doubt a devotee but He is under the impression that GOD exists in his house which is in the sky above our Earth.This shows that he is still in immature stage about GOD.The firstline of the above three is applicable to him. such devotees are called POOR devotee.We will come across such peoplein our society amidst us. we cannot blame them. still they have to develop the correct concept about GOD.
  6. Nischel

    Nischel Senior IL'ite

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    Re: Rama Krishna Says.....

    PART 2
    Dear ILits,
    There are some other type of people.A friend of mine passed his examination in first class and got a good job also
    immediately.When i congratulated hm he said "God dwells in my heart as my inner master i.e why i am successful in all my attempts."ofcourse for his failure he never scold God.He is
    no doubt a devotee.But his concept of God is not yet matured.
    Because Is God his personal property? Will he not stay in the
    hearts of other people?Then what about the failure students?Is god bios over some people ?It can never be.So his concept of God is wrong.we will come across such people in our society here and there.Ramakrishna called them as AVERAGE
    DEVOTEES.such people should still have to develop their
    understanding about GOD.There is only one GOD who belongs to all livng beings.We can never attribute to God for our succeses and failures.They are due to our own actions.God is always unbiased and impartial to every one.
    with best wishes
    1 person likes this.
  7. Nischel

    Nischel Senior IL'ite

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    Re: Rama Krishna Says.....

    PART 3
    There Are another Type of people who says always that "GOD
    RAMAKRISHNA categorised such people as a BEST DEVOTEE. It is Right.Because Lord Krishna him self said in Bhagavat Geetha chapter 6 Karma yoga slokas 29,30,31. The essence is
    "A true yogi(devotee) is he who sees me in all living beings and all livng beings in me is perfect in his vision.
    I never leave him for those who never leaves me and observe me in all living beings.
    He who realises that he and paramatma(God) are same
    who exists in all Bhutas will always be with me."
    The same idea is propounded by Adi Sankaracharya also that
    This entire universe is none other than BRAHMAN only and
    no second thing Exists.
    with Best wishes
  8. kalpana

    kalpana Junior IL'ite

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    Saints & Great Men related posts -worth sharing

    By Swami Pavitrananda
    Swami Pavitrananda was the head of the Vedanta Society in New York City from 1951 until his death in 1977. He was editor of Prabuddha Bharata from 1931 to 1935 and was elected a Trustee of the Ramakrishna Order in 1947. This article was first published in the Nov-Dec, 1967 issue of Vedanta and the West.

    “Hold fast to the lotus feet of the Lord. Remember him constantly. Don’t waste your time in idle thoughts. Struggle to control the outgoing mind and fix it on God. Struggle. Struggle hard! Then you will realize what joy there is in spiritual life, what fun it is. You must overcome maya, ignorance, even in this life. It won’t be easy unless you devote yourself to the work of the spirit. You must have faith, intense faith. Let no doubt enter your mind.
    “God cannot be known by the finite mind. He is beyond this mortal mind and far beyond the human intellect. This apparent universe which you see is within the domain of the mind. The mind has conjured it up; it is its author, and the mind cannot go beyond its own domain.
    “Behind the mind of which we are aware is a subtle, spiritual mind, existing in seed-form. Through contemplation and prayer this mind develops and with its unfoldment a new vision opens. The aspirant realizes many spiritual truths. However, this is not the final experience. The subtle mind also cannot reach God., the supreme Atman, but it leads you nearer to him. At this stage the world loses all its charms for the aspirant; he remains absorbed in the consciousness of God.
    “Next comes what is called samadhi. The experience of samadhi is indescribable, beyond is and is not. In this blessed experience, there is neither happiness nor misery, neither light nor darkness. All is Infinite Being—inexpressible.†—Swami Brahmananada
    In ancient days, long, long, ago, a sage of the Upanishads declared: “I have known that supreme Being who is beyond the ocean of infinite darkness, by knowing whom only one can conquer death. There is no other way.†Perhaps that is the earliest document still in existence of a person who came face to face with the ultimate reality.
    There are other sages also mentioned in the Upanishads who spoke of their direct experience of the ultimate reality thus: “We have know that reality. That is the only way to have bliss in life. That is the only way to conquer death and to conquer life. Those who have not realized that are objects of pity.â€
    Not only the Upanishadic sages. Saints belonging to all religions say more or less the same thing. Some of the Hebrew prophets also spoke of direct communication with God or ultimate reality. Buddha spoke of enlightenment, which means great joy. He did not go into the details. He did not talk of a personal God, but he spoke of infinite bliss. Christ said that he had the direct experience. He said clearly, “Who hath seen me, hath seen the Father.†He was so positive. Records say that once he was transfigured.
    In the medieval age, many Christian saints spoke of their direct experience. The pagan Greek mystic, Plotinus, said he had direct experience of ultimate truth. His disciple, Porphyry, testified that Plotinus had the experience three or four times, and he himself had it once. In India, in the medieval age—in the age of devotion—many saints, some of them unlettered, had direct access to god.
    But the vision of God was experienced by persons not only in ancient days and in the medieval age, there are reliable records of some saints in modern times who had such experience. The experiences of the Upanishads were repeated in their lives. Truth does not pay homage to time. If it was realized in the past, it can be realized in the present.
    In the modern age, in India, some had the direct experience of those truths. Their realizations were tested by agnostics and atheists, by persons who were not sentimental, who were not gullible, who had open minds and modern education. More than that, the influence of those persons who realized the Truth was immense, stupendous in their time. And their influence is still going on.
    If you keep an open mind, you will find that religion is not the dream of an idle person; it is not “other-worldliness.†It brings the “other world†right into the present world, into our mundane existence. It has a direct relation to our mundane existence. Real religion brings heaven down to earth.
    We have not to wait for death to have an experience of heaven. If that were so, heaven would not even be worth the attempt. If there is such a thing as heaven, it must be brought right here. It is not a fact that heaven is a limited geographical area beyond this world. There is only one world, one existence, one life. As the Upanishads say, if there is Truth, it must be realized in this very life, in this very world, while living in this human body—otherwise, life is a failure. Those persons who have realized Truth directly speak in such a bold, clear-cut-way, with no ambiguity: Truth must be known here and now.
    But in modern times we find it hard to believe that these things are true. In spite of the fact that these truths have been directly experienced by persons even in the modern age, still we find it hard to believe that they are true. But ignorance is not the criterion of truth. If we are ignorant, we find it hard to believe what is true. We are to be pitied for our ignorance. We should try to find out how to remove that ignorance. That is rational. That makes sense.
    Even many people who have a little spiritual inclination will say that these things could happen only in the remote past, in ancient times or in the medieval age. One bishop said recently that these things happened in the medieval age, as if they cannot happen now.
    Some will say, “The saints and prophets of the past were so great. It is not possible for us to become like them.†And so they do not think the struggle is worthwhile. And the result is, even what could be expected of them, they do not do. They do not do even what they could. Other people make an attempt, but they are unable to continue. Because of their self-love or self-will they go astray. They become stranded on the path. They do not get anything.
    If we are to judge what happens in spiritual life, what are the fruits of spiritual practice, we must remember one thing. In worldly life, many of those who have had splendid success did not dream that their success in life would be so great. They began their life in an ordinary way, they were struggling, and success began to come. The greater the success, the greater was their boldness. They began to aspire for more and more. Success leads to success. In the beginning they were not so bold.
  9. kalpana

    kalpana Junior IL'ite

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    Fruits of spiritual practice..inspiring..continued...

    Einstein was dull when young. His father despaired of him. Afterwards things came out. So also in spiritual life. Let us not, just in the beginning, think in terms of the highest. Naturally we shall get frightened. We shall see a great distance between us and the ideal. That is not the way to reach the ideal.
    In mountain climbing, from the foot of the hill you see first a peak perhaps one thousand feet high, and what lies beyond is covered. When you go to the top of that peak, you find another thousand or two thousand feet above you. I remember the first time I went mountain climbing. From the foot of the hill we could see, at a great height, a peak covered with forest. When we reached that peak, we saw another big peak in front of us. That is what happens in mountain climbing, until you reach Mount Everest.
    This is the way one attains the highest worldly success. Why should you think, as soon as you feel interested in religion, that the spiritual struggle is not possible for you because you will not be able to reach the highest?
    When you go to school and learn the alphabet, you do not think at that time that you will become a great scholar. Even those who become great scholars afterwards have to begin with the alphabet and gradually their knowledge increases. Before beginning our religious life we should not ask, what does one gain? Or even being in religious life, we should not ask, what have we gained? We should not think that way. We do not take that attitude in worldly life; why should we do so in spiritual life?
    The question is, are we dissatisfied with the present? That is the important point. If we are not dissatisfied with the present, we cannot aspire to real religion.
    Most people are satisfied with the status quo, with eating, drinking and making merry (provided you can remain merry always). The first prerequisite for spiritual life is a great dissatisfaction with the present. That does not mean preaching that the world is full of misery. Let those who think the world is good be satisfied with it.
    But fortunately there are persons who are not satisfied with the status quo. They want to break this dream. However great might be our share of joys, we cannot make any head or tail of this world. We do not know where we come from, where we shall go, or what will be the outcome of our effort. Each generation thinks it will bring the millennium to this world. And each generation leaves the world as it was before, if not in a worse condition. This is how things are going on.
    But there are some persons who boldly refuse to spend their lives going after earthly enjoyment—physical or mental. They do not want enjoyment in heaven either. They want to know truth and nothing but truth—not relative truths, but the essence of truth. Some are people ready to sacrifice everything to know that truth. In their search for truth, scientists sacrifice many comforts and become absorbed in laboratory work. In the same way, when our dissatisfaction is great, we feel that at any cost we must know the meaning of life, we must know what is the real truth, not just partial truths.
    That feeling also increases. You begin with some dissatisfaction and you try to find out the remedy for that dissatisfaction. When there is dissatisfaction, when there is a problem, sooner or later a solution comes. It has been the experience of all saints that when there is spiritual dissatisfaction in us, help comes. Sometimes help comes unexpectedly. You may perchance come across a book, or a friend, or a guide, or even a saint. That has been the experience of saints. Water finds its own level. We also find our own level. When there is great spiritual dissatisfaction, we begin to grow. Movement comes and we find our level, where we are at home. But we do not remain at that level. We go higher and higher.
    What happens to those who deliberately try to live a spiritual life and do spiritual practice? In the beginning some find it all mechanical and dry, extremely dry. Others are carried along for a while by the excitement of new things, the glamour of the mysterious East. They will sit in lotus posture and stop their nostrils and think they are becoming great yogis.
    But afterward the novelty wears off and there comes depression. Religious life is not a question of newness. You have to struggle and struggle till you reach the goal. This is an eternal problem. Those who are attracted by the novelty of something exotic are bound to be disillusioned, unless before that time they gain strength.
    One must be ready to struggle. If you really want a thing, you will not grudge struggling for it. In the beginning, in most cases, the struggle will be mechanical. There might be a little excitement, just in the beginning; but after the novelty wears off, you have to struggle by the common light of day. It is a stark reality. Don’t go by dreams. For the time being, leave the dream higher up. Let our eyes be on the ground. We are “of the earth and earthly,†so we must struggle from were we are. The result comes sooner or later, depending on the person. Some people get the result immediately. Others may have to wait a short or longer period of time. Then interest grows. That is the important thing—interest grows. That means one is getting some result.
    But even when interest grows, it does not at once take us higher up. Interest grows, but doubt also comes—sometimes doubt about the truth of what you are seeking, sometimes doubt about your ability to reach the goal. These things will come, more or less, to everyone. There will be ups and downs, as in every sphere of life, in every business. But if doubt is conquered, you get greater strength, greater interest. Love for God begins to grow.
    Other things come, too. Your understanding becomes clearer and clearer. Sentimentality drops off. Many persons sentimentally dream about spiritual life, waiting for something spectacular to happen. But as you do your spiritual practice regularly, your understanding becomes clearer. You can easily detect what is wrong and what is false. Your reason becomes sharp, you emotion becomes chastened.
    The mind sometimes comes under great control. But one cannot be sure of that. Sometimes the mind will be in a very favorable condition. You might have some spiritual experience which gives you great joy, but afterwards for a long time you might not have anything. It is something like fishing. When you put the bait in the water, sometimes there is a little nibbling, but afterwards nothing bites. According to some, God tests you in that way. In any case, these are the facts of spiritual life.
    As you progress, your ego becomes less and less. Introspection grows; self-examination becomes automatic. You begin to see your shortcomings. You clearly see your ego; you clearly perceive your pride, your self-conceit. Ordinary people do not see their shortcomings. Or even if they see them, they do not like to look at them. They suppress their awareness of them. Some people even say that you should not try to find out your shortcomings, because your ego will resent it. But religious people will see their own shortcomings. Sometimes it might be frightening.
    When the mind becomes sharp, one can see more clearly, and one sees one’s shortcomings. The greater your progress in spiritual life, the greater will be your sensibility, the more you will see your shortcomings. One has to put up with these things. This is the struggle. Gross mind and subtle mind. When your mind becomes subtle, you can easily detect what is in your subconscious mind.
    One great saint said that when undesirable thoughts began to appear, he would stop them, even in the seed form, before they came to the surface. One learns the art of doing these things. One becomes forgiving. One develops love for one and all. Not all at once. One might not be engaged in social welfare activities, but that does not mean one has no sympathy for others. Don’t think those who are engaged in social welfare activities and make a loud noise, all have feelings for people. Even as in religious life, some of those who start with idealism afterwards become hardhearted. But in religious life one is struggling against that. One is cautious. One feels good thoughts coming, but harmful thoughts also come, one finds. One becomes patient and forgiving.
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  10. kalpana

    kalpana Junior IL'ite

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    Fruits of spiritual practice..inspiring..continued...

    But don’t judge a religious person only by these things. You want to see the list of virtues which it is said will be visible in the life of a saint; and if, by that list, you find that a certain person is not a saint, you think he or she is good for nothing, he or she has not developed spirituality. It might be that they have cleared the plate of their mind of many shortcomings, but a dark spot remains somewhere, and they are struggling with that. This is the way one grows. All the while one is growing.
    A spiritual aspirant might not himself be aware that he or she is growing. It is very difficult for people to find that they are growing, because they are struggling. They are in the thick of the fight. But those who are highly developed spiritually can watch and find how a struggling person is growing. It is said that sometimes a person who is passing through the worst period of spiritual struggle might be experiencing the highest thing. Through that struggle one is acquiring strength.
    But spiritual life will not be all “dark night of the soul.†As I said, one will get joy also. Sometimes the mind will be very calm. Interest will develop into love for God, genuine love. The pity is that one has to pass through changes. The only remedy is perseverance. Those who really want to develop their spiritual life will stick to the struggle, because it is their life. What else will they do? They have to stick to it. But it is not all a dismal fight. It is not a hopeless task. At a period it might seem hopeless, but those who know, or those who get advice from persons experienced in spiritual life, expect that various obstacles will come. Laziness will come. False understanding will come. You may think you are having spiritual experiences when it is all imagination.
    Those who come with sentimental aspirations at once will say that their kundalini has risen to this or that chakra. Once when I was in Seattle with the Swami in charge of our Center there, he wanted to buy something for me. At the store I was waiting while he was shopping, when a salesman came to me and said that he was the disciple of a certain yogi. I said I had heard that that yogi was not still alive. Well, he got his instruction from some disciple of a disciple of that yogi. That was all right. But then he began to talk about his kundalini, saying that after practicing for three or four months his kundalini had risen to this chakra and that chakra. I looked at him and wondered if he was out of mind. Really, I was alarmed about him. He was such a nice person. I was worried about him. But if one shows the least disbelief, such people are hurt. They are so sure they are getting realizations.
    When there is sentimentality, that means one’s understanding has not become clear, one’s reasoning faculty has not become sharp. It is extremely necessary that your reasoning capacity be very sharp; otherwise you will be deluded. Patanjali warns that we may be seeing wrong things, we may be mistakenly thinking that we are getting spiritual experiences. Some people have visions. But you cannot always trust visions. A vision is tested by its after-effect, by the transformation it brings about in your character.
    A vision might be simply a dream, an imagination, a fantasy. When you meditate, you are in another world, the thought world. Many fantasies come and go. You might be thinking those fantasies are visions. But they are not. If a vision does not change your life, if it does not give you inner strength, it is not a true vision.
    But some visions are true. Even if they do not change one’s life completely, their memory gives one strength. I have heard from some people—thoroughly reliable people—who had true visions. They said that when a real vision comes, it is a splendid joy, an intense joy. It comes all of a sudden unexpectedly. “A great soul told me that when he was having spiritual problems, passing through a crisis, all of a sudden a vision came. It lasted. But even he told me that it was a phase. One gets a vision, but the spiritual struggle goes on. However, it is not the same struggle. One has got strength; one’s faith has increased.
    So there are true visions, but not all visions are true. Beware of that. What you think is a vision might be your imagination.
    Some people have visions, some do not. Because you do not get visions, that does not mean that you are not progressing. In one English book on mysticism, there is a nice distinction: imaginary vision and intellectual vision. In an intellectual vision you do not see any form. Your understanding become clearer, you perception becomes very clear and strong. It is like getting the result after doing a mathematical calculation. When one gets the result, one knows at once that it is the truth, the correct result.
    In the same way, in spiritual life, you may get a very clear insight into some particular idea; you feel sure you have understood it. That makes a great impact on you. This is also a kind of spiritual experience. Sometimes an experience of this type is much better than an ordinary vision. What happens as a result of true spiritual experience is that your conviction grows.
    Visions are secondary; the important thing is conviction. That gives you strength. You may have a vision which gives you joy for the time being—great joy, perhaps—but afterwards it is just a memory. That memory may give a little stimulus, but it does not necessarily give strength. What you want is strength and conviction. Real conviction is as good as realization. Once feels so clearly the truth of a thing.
    When these experiences come, you begin to feel more and more that you are not the body, you are not the mind. You are separate from them. Behind this world which you see with your senses, there is another world which is much more real. In this world everything is changing, everything is unreliable, including the mind. Swami Vivekananda once said that everyone is irresponsible. Only those persons who have known the Truth are responsible; everyone else is irresponsible. One does not know what one will do.
    But when there is conviction about the reality of the Spirit, one grows. The mind comes under greater and greater control. Inner strength comes. The important thing is that inner strength must come. Gradually one begins to feel that one is not body and mind, that one is something else. What that is one cannot define, but one is sure that it is much more real than body and mind.
    When one can clearly see that mind is unstable, unreliable, one gets an idea of something beyond the mind. Sometimes one gets a glimpse of that. Sometimes when the mind is under control to a great extent one sees the reality of that thing more clearly. These experiences give one strength. Even a saint might say that he has not achieved anything, that he is still struggling. We might think, “How is it that even this man who has been struggling for so many years says he has not achieved anything?†He has surely got something. But he counts that as nothing. He wants more.
    In this way one grows until one reaches a state where one sees, one feels that the whole world is non-existent. Only oneself and God exist. Two things exist. One has become almost zero. I say almost zero, for otherwise one could not see two. That is a great state in spiritual life. Afterwards, the two vanishes and only one remains, as in the quotation I gave at the beginning. The highest state cannot be described. It is neither “is†nor “is not.†“Is†or “is not†you perceive with your mind, but at that time one’s self has become lost in the eternity. Or, in terms of dualism, in terms of devotion, one’s love for God has become so great that one has lost oneself in God.
    When we compare the saints of different religions, we find that they all say the same thing, though in different ways. One Sufi saint, describing what happens in spiritual life, said that when you begin, God is far away. We imagine God is somewhere in heaven, in some geographical area, where we will enjoy the afterlife. One feels God is far away. But why should God be far away? God is everywhere.
    When one progresses, one feels God has come nearer and nearer. Still, one thinks of God, one loves God, as a separate entity. The worshipper and the object of worship are different. But when love for God becomes intense, one’s separate existence vanishes. That is called the highest state. That is called oneness, the ultimate reality, where nothing exists except supreme joy.
    How do we know that that joy exists? Those rare people who come to the ordinary level after realizing the highest state, say that it was great joy. Sometimes people from outside can see that a knower of truth has so much joy in him or her.
    Many people witnessed this in Ramakrishna’s life. Sometimes he would be in what is called samadhi, the transcendental state. His eyelids would not move; even if someone touched his eyeball, there was no response. To all intents and purposes the body was dead. His doctor, who was atheistic (though a very good man), found that his heartbeat stopped during his samadhi. But people would find great joy beaming through his face.

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