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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jivan Sadhana - A practical path to fulfilling life

Human Life is the greatest boon of God. There is nothing more precious in His infinite treasure. In terms of the bodily structure and mental functions, a human being is the most superbly evolved of all living organisms. He has been endowed with wonderful faculties to decipher the mystery of Nature and make the desired use of its enormous resources. He is well equipped with ever-enriching means of knowledge and scientific techniques. His creativity, physical potentials and thinking and emotional capacities are majestic sources of unlimited power and success in the material, mental and spiritual domains of life. No other creature except man has been gifted with the immense joy of family life, facilities of earning and social security and comforts. No other being could ever have such artistic talents and efficient organizational and management skills as this crown of Nature’s creation.

Most remarkably, the Creator has given man the freedom of choice as to how he makes use of these gifts of Nature. How much and in what way a person makes use of his potentials and opportunities is in his own hands. Whether one lives a progressive and successful life or is lost in the quagmire of stagnancy and depravity basically depends upon –– whether he has understood or not the meaning and purpose of human life? Having understood it, whether he has cared to make its precious use and hence chosen a righteous path? Whether he has the courage, will and prudence to follow it? This choice and endeavor lay the foundation of the edifice of rise or fall, success or failure in one’s life. If one does not realize this fact and continues to pretend or complain about circumstantial constraints, rather than attempting to improve his own attitude, he has himself to blame for his misery. No one can help the one who does not want to help himself.

God has manifested Himself in many forms of divine powers, but none is as intimate to us and ready to bestow its boons as the deity of our own life. Human life is defined as a kalpvraksha – a celestial tree, sitting beneath which fulfils all wishes. Those who understand its real value (dignity) and orient their attitude, conduct and deeds accordingly, acquire everything that is worth achieving. Whether or not worshiping a god really brings great things could be doubtful because of the varied experiences of the devotees. But, the all-fulfilling, ever accomplishing effects of the devotion and sadhana of the life-deity are absolutely sure. It’s a pity that we remain ignorant about the grand importance of our own life and hardly pay any attention to awaken and refine its powers and potentials (hidden in our own self) and to make righteous use of this marvelous bequest.

By their assiduous sadhana of the land, the farmers and gardeners make the soil give out its hidden prosperity in the form of flowers, fruits and crops. The sadhakas of knowledge become erudite scholars and gain elite status and respectful lucrative jobs. Those who devote themselves in the sadhana of business prosper with wealth. The sadhakas of the physical potentials of the body become wondrous sports-persons or mighty wrestlers. The sadhakas of art and literature also attain glory and prosperity as celebrity singers, actors, sculptors, painters, poets or writers, etc. Devotional sadhana of divine powers is also found to enshower rare benefits in one form or the other. But, superior to all of these is jivana-sadhana. One, who follows it with firm determination and dedication, certainly accomplishes preeminently noble goals.

A particle of soil as such has negligible status in external appearance and gross physical terms. But controlled fission (breaking) of its nucleus generates mammoth atomic energy that can shake big mountains and even the entire earth. Similar is true of the human life. If we peep into its deeper structure and sublime domains, we shall find infinite powers in this otherwise perishable and apparently purposeless 'free gift' of Nature.

Even a precious diamond could be thrown away as a mere piece of broken glass because of ignorance and neglect. Then, why should one blame others or the destiny, if one has to face infirmities, failures, sorrows and regression for want of jivana-sadhana for awareness of the mystery and majesty of life? Negligence of (the sadhana of) life is a sin that most of us continue to commit inadvertently throughout our lives…. Other immoral actions or offences might offer some benefits at the gross worldly level, for some time, but the sin of refusal to understand the importance of life and ruining it in evil and meaningless activities always results in further sinking in darkness, diversion and decline. It can never give anything except evaporating one's potentials, time and resources and making one's life a virtual hell from one end to the other.

If there is any positive sign of the rise of one's fate, it is his awakening and understanding of the immense potentials of his life and prompt action for its refinement, ascent and constructive channelization.

It is a prophesy of the seers that heavens will descend on the earth in the coming "Age of Divine Intelligence" (Pragya-Yug). Its ultimate expression would be realized as the emergence of divinity in humans. Its arrival would be experienced as –– elimination of vices impregnated in the subtle orbits of mind, purification of thoughts and intrinsic emotional tendencies and virtuous enlightenment of attitude and conduct.

The warriors engaged in the battlefield of emotional and mental purification are the truly deserving claimants of everlasting victory. The holy Gita describes one's own self as his most affectionate and all-capable mentor as well as his nearest and most dangerous enemy. Ignorant, disorderly and unobservant life is indeed a curse under which even Kuber (the Lord of heavenly wealth) could be seen trapped in poverty and Indra (the emperor of heavens) could be found suffering from infirmities and helplessness. One who succeeds in the graceful Art-of-Living is a true artist. Whatever be his present talents, training and abilities, he would eventually be embraced by triumph from all directions.

Rigorous training makes monkeys, snakes, beers, tigers and other animals and birds perfect in amazing skills and performances in the zoos and circuses. Likewise, an uncultured, uncivilized, untrained, ignorant, perverted mentality and character could also be refined and molded in the fire of dedicated sadhana. The efforts and resources people spend in defeating the opponents or moving ahead in the rat-race of materialistic attainments, if even half of that is used in self-analysis, self-purification and self-development, it would prove to be a most beneficial, prudent and far-reaching attempt towards lasting satisfaction and nobler achievements. Human personality possesses a kind of magnetic force that is further activated with determination and attracts all the help, opportunities and resources compatible to it. It is not all that difficult to carve one's chosen course of life, as one often presumes.

It is quite natural if others don't understand or obey us, but it is beyond comprehension that our own bodies, our own minds do not listen to us and that we are unable to shape our own attitudes, aspirations and behavior. Then where and why do we fail in controlling our own mind and actions? We need to put this question before ourselves repeatedly and honestly search for the answer. Downward flow of water, or fall of a stone thrown from above are natural; an external force (against the gravitational one) and extra tools are essential for their upthrust. Extra courage, extra effort is also required to adopt a new pattern of life. It is a challenging task, a truly valorous attempt, a real tapashcarya to break the shell of our own untoward habits, cautiously deviate the set system of our life and bring the positive changes, and amend our thinking and conduct towards higher ideals. It requires an awakened will and zealous attempt to begin with….

Your own life is your most intimate and loving companion. Before proceeding towards any other goal, you should first see whether you have taken care of this inseparable fellow, which is totally dependent upon you; whether you have fulfilled your most immediate and vital duty of its well-being and graceful progress? It should be clearly understood here that possession of worldly prosperity and resources is relevant only for the body; we need to have the wealth of virtuous qualities, behavior and character for the dignified progress of life.

There are two definite and essential ways to prosperous ascent – one, check the loopholes and sources of losses; two, adopt the currently feasible remedies and modes of enhancing the beneficial effects. Some people are seen being bankrupted or ruined while some others attain great achievements on the financial, mental, familial and physical fronts. Neglect of the above two ways or their prudent adoption works behind the failures or successes in such cases. This is what applies in the field of jivana-sadhana and radiant development of personality as well. Whether small or big in its dimension, every work needs proper care, planning and thoughtful analysis of all relevant aspects for desired results. Attempting things at random or working in a haphazard way does not lead anywhere; getting results without substantial efforts could be just a coincidence or a matter of chance which certainly can't be considered a correct or sustainable approach. Discipline, dedication, wisdom, vision and thorough and vigilant attempt become all the more significant in case of enlightened development and progress of life by jivana-sadhana.

Continuous and gradually deeper process of manan and chintan (contemplation and thinking) is regarded necessary in jivana-sadhana. Some time in the morning and some time in the evening should be used for this practice, when the mind is in calm and peaceful state. A thorough stocktaking of the external and internal states of your life should be taken and possibilities of amending the defects and mistakes, eliminating the deficiencies and furthering and expanding the positive qualities and virtuous potentials should be thought over. The decisions and planned measures of action should be such that whatever is envisaged could be easily and immediately implemented in practice in the present ambience and the current state of one's mind.

Self-analysis, Self-refinement, Self-development and Self-evolution –– these four steps like the four legs of the bed or four walls of the room are regarded as most essential and important in manan-chintan for jivana-sadhana. The partisan tendency of being blind to one's own vices and weaknesses is quite common among most people. Self-analysis corresponds to a fair and thorough review of the negative and positive facets of the external as well as internal personality in the personal, familial, professional and social spheres of life. This self-study should be such that it allows for objective search of feasible solutions and their adoption towards self-refinement and improvement in terms of present inclinations, physical and mental condition, behavior, work-quality, etc. These first two steps constitute the "manan" part.

"Chintan" involves the last two steps of development and evolution. Self-refinement and self-development are like regimen and medicament; both are ineffective without the other in the sequence. Constructive thinking and follow-up planning of the actions towards elimination of the wrong or the bad and adoption and augmentation of the good or the brighter features of one's personality vis-à-vis the outcome of manan is attempted here. "What is the most avoidable ill tendency that could be easily uprooted at the earliest, and how?" –– is thought over and resolved by chintan. Similarly, the positive qualities and refined abilities that purify and glorify the human personality are identified with a focused view on their possible adoption or inculcation in near future considering the present state of body, mind and the external circumstances. Moral grace and virtuous talents both should be incorporated in one's qualities, deeds and conduct. This is essential for self-development. It is equally important here, to also take care of righteous and creative use of what is available to one as the materialistic resources and talents. Possession is meaningful only if it is employed constructively. Otherwise, if whatever is earned or developed continues to be drained or misused, prosperity would prove to be worse than poverty.

Self-evolution means expansion of the self; i.e. relaxing and gradually unwinding the bonds of selfishness, avarice, ambitions and possessive attachments. It includes self-recognition via a deep thinking and feeling of the existence of the self as an integral unit of the entire existence. The expansion of the self eventually leads to the unification of the individual consciousness with the cosmic consciousness. While the behavior, character and deeds in day-to-day life are indicative of the level of progress in the other steps of manan-chintan, broadening of attitude, expression of love, generosity and compassion are the immediate indications of self-evolution. This is a clear reflection of spiritual enlightenment, if the inner self begins to live in the feeling of "vasudhaive kutumbkam" (entire world as one family) and the soul aspires for shedding all thoughts and feelings of selfishness and ego-centered personality . With evolution of your individual self, your mind and heart won't just allow you to live without sharing your possessions for the welfare of others, donating your time and efforts for altruistic causes and distributing your love and benevolence for all.

At the outset manan and chintan may appear to be mere mental exercises, but practicing them sincerely every day at regular intervals of time will begin to show the gradually intensifying impact of these simple but effective spiritual experiments. You and the people interacting with you since earlier times would then experience the purification and refinement in your personality in few months' time. Once the spiritual elevation begins, continuous and dedicated follow-up of these steps will become a natural part of your life. This will lead you to reach the higher goals of jivana-sadhana.

It should be recalled that the human self, being a manifestation of the Absolute (the Almighty, Omniscient and Omnipresent Thyself), is also complete in itself. It is the ignorance, waste and misuse of the uncountable bequests available to it that cause the infirmities and defects and put a human being into the pitiable state of life. This is like dirtying one's clothes by the nectar-milk of the Kamdhenu (heavenly cow) because of milking it in a porous pot and then cursing and complaining the latter or its milk. This erroneous, evil tendency of draining out and abusing the immense potentials is called incontinence. The courageous, farsighted, devout endeavor of restraining it is called "tapashcarya" or "tapa". Tapa is said to be the source of riddhis-siddhis (supramental talents and preeminent, extrasensory powers). Let us imbibe adoption of tapa in practice in our present-day life.

God is invisible. The soul also has no perceivable form. What is visible is – the gross manifestation of Nature and Life. Of all the beings, the life of humans alone has been endowed with three magnificent accessories, which can get it all that it aspires for; these divine gifts are – (i) Highly evolved physical body (ii) Time and (iii) Thought-power. These three can effectuate tapping any potential and achieving any goal whatsoever depending upon how wisely and to what extent one makes use of them. Wealth or materialistic success is not the measure of one's true intelligence because this can also be acquired by destiny or earned by unfair means. The real test of wisdom or farsighted reasoning lies in –– how and for what purposes is one spending and employing his potentials and available resources?

Those having self-discipline and sagacious control over the mind and the senses gain the truly durable affluence and abilities. Conscious control of senses; quietude of mind; judicious and wise use of time and material resources are the four basic and essential disciplines to be mastered for jivana-sadhana. The sense of true self-identity as a spiritual being, the remarkable potentials of the physical body and the invaluable faculties of its sense organs are ideally used and their capabilities demonstrated in vigilant self-continence and self-refinement and effacement of the ego through selfless service.

The treasure of time is indeed invaluable. Every moment of it should be used carefully and constructively. Each one of us must have a timetable to schedule our activities in such a way that there could be no room for idleness and misuse of time. The requirement of rest and entertainment should not be confused with dullness or wastage of time. Every passing breath is reducing our life span further. We have to be most cautious of our time if we are to achieve something in life. Look at the accomplished lives in the history of the world; every great achiever, every successful man or woman has made wise and creative use of time. It is an absolute necessity for all those desirous of progress in life.

Farsighted use of time becomes possible with zealous assiduity and motivated interest. It is said that Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity, lives in the radiance of hard-working body. Prudent industriousness is also a source of physical and mental health. Lethargy and poverty are inseparable companions; so also is true of shortsighted eagerness and failure. These facts should be always remembered as guiding principles. You should set a do-able goal along your path of ascent after thorough review of all aspects and organized planning and then do your level best to accomplish it; engage all your talents, efficiency and experience in this regard as though the work-in-hand is a mark of your prestige. Making a harmonious management of time, potentials and efforts is the key to excellence and recognized success. Disorganized or half-hearted efforts, idleness and haphazard use of time, on the contrary, retards the progress of even the otherwise skilled and able persons. It is said that one whose time is wasted in lethargy and craving for comfort and whose mind is hazed by dullness and attitude of negligence and delay is destined to meet adversities and decline. An alert and thoughtful combination of busy schedule, focused efforts and abilities is therefore a fundamental requirement for rise and advancement in every walk of life.

The diligence and labor of the body will not be of much use and would be nothing more than a burden unless the mind is also engaged in the work at hand. In fact, thoughts lay the basis of actions. Thought-power or the faculty of thinking is indeed a peerless, immeasurable possession of mankind. It is the source of expression of all mental and intellectual talents; imagination is also a silent reflection of thought-power. Idle mind is said to be the devil's workshop. What we are, depends upon what we think and hence do. Our thoughts are the architects of our destiny. Mental concentration and positive and constructive orientation of thoughts is an arduous and ultimate goal. It is an achievement that may be compared with the attainment of divine boons.

Thoughts should never be allowed to wander around like stray dogs and peep and lick into the rubbish or rest like pigs in mire and squalor. Training them for wise and constructive thinking should be attempted constantly at an accelerated pace. An army of good thoughts should be kept ready to expel out every vicious or untoward thought as soon as it enters the mind and to clean out the mental pollution. Thorn is removed by thorn; evil or negative thoughts should be removed with the help of enlightened thoughts and awakening of faith in divine values. Swadhyaya and Satsang are effective modes of refinement and righteous orientation of thought-power. A topic should be selected for a day or a specific time-slot for deeper and focused thinking. Thinking should always be preserved for a selected theme and should be constructively applied like that of the scientists, philosophers and great personalities.

There is also a fourth faculty – wealth or materialistic resources. As such, it is earned in this world by human-efforts; but, behind this also lie the above discussed three grand gifts blessed by the Almighty. Earning by moral means and spending it for good purposes is a justified and wise use of this resource. Wealth and worldly resources should be employed in moral uplifting and righteous progress of the family and the society. Not a penny should be allowed to be spent on addictions. This discipline, if adopted honestly would help prevention of future-addictions as well and checking the spread of corruption and many other immoral 'uses' of money. If proper budgeting is planned and the needs are reviewed from time to time to fit in the income, while also keeping some margin for welfare activities, you will find that your present income itself is quite sufficient for happy raising of your family. Restrained and conscious utilization of money and material resources, like that of the physical potentials, time and thought-power constitutes the tapashcarya towards jivana-sadhana. This is the key to perfecting the art-of-living and moving towards a fulfilling path of practical spirituality.



Notes:

1. Jivan - Sadhana means – Divine accomplishment of life through holistic refinement of body, mind and the inner self and manifestation of their inherent virtuous qualities.

2. Sadhana: Dedicated and determined efforts aimed at spiritual elevation and noble accomplishments.

3. Tapashcarya (tapa or tapasya): Devout endeavor of self-continence and ascetic disciplines motivated towards sadhana of self-refinement and spiritual sublimation.

4. Satsang and Swadhyaya: Attending enlightening discourses, discussions and studying and contemplating over the sagacious thoughts and glorious works of great personalities on different aspects of life.