Philosophy of Divine Love
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The Five Essentials of Spiritual Growth
Why be Spiritual?
The Vedic philosophy lays great emphasis on the state of our mind, as mind is the singular most important factor determining the quality of our life. “Unfortunately, in the commotion of life, we often put the management of our mind on a backseat while we passionately pursue external success, not realizing that inner victories are the basis for outer accomplishments.” [*] Whereas the wise utilize their time on the earth to elevate themselves by cultivating the mind.
There is a growing body of evidence indicating that spiritual practices are associated with better health and wellbeing. No wonder spirituality in the workplace has become the subject of numerous studies in recent years. The modern management theory for example emphasizes that an effective leader needs to be spiritually aware and evolved. Therefore, to nurture spirituality and realize God is essential for everyone to live healthily, harmoniously, and successfully.
There are only two realms in which our mind dwells — one is the realm of Maya (material energy) and the other is the realm of God. If our mind rises above the sensual perception of pleasures of this material world, it can easily get absorbed in God and be purified. To do so, grasping and practicing these five principles is sine qua non: śhradda (faith), satsaṅg (spiritual congregation), sādhana (spiritual practice), seva (service), and śharaṇāgati (surrender).
śhradda – Faith
A leap of faith is required to embark on the spiritual path. The Bhakti Rasāmṛit Sindhu states:
ādau śhraddhā tataḥ sādhusaṅgo ’tha bhajanakriyā
“The first step in the path to God-realization is to have faith. Then, one begins participating in satsaṅg (spiritual congregation). This leads to the personal practice of devotion.”
None of us are without faith, for it is an inseparable aspect of the human personality. we all repose our faith somewhere or the other. Where we decide to place our faith and what we choose to believe in is based on the knowledge we acquire.
There is a direct relationship between knowledge and faith, which results in love. “For example, if your friend shows you a black pebble-like stone. You have no knowledge of its importance, and thus, you have no love for it either. Your friend says, “This is a śhāligrām, and a saintly personality has gifted it to me.” A śhāligrām is a special kind of fossil stone worshipped as a representation of Lord Vishnu. If you are aware of the significance of śhāligrāms, when you receive this knowledge that the stone is a śhāligrām, your appreciation for it will increase. Let us say your friend further adds, “Do you know it used to be worshipped five hundred years ago by the great saint, Swami Ramananda?” The moment you hear this piece of knowledge, your respect for the stone will increase further. Each time, it is the knowledge that increased and strengthened your reverence for the stone.” [†] Similarly, proper knowledge of God instils faith in us and enhances devotion toward him.
Satsaṅg (Spiritual Congregation)
The word sat means eternal truth; the word saṅg means in association. So, satsaṅg means to be in the association of truth. In other words, satsaṅg slowly leads us to the Absolute Truth – our Supreme Lord.
Associating with the righteous and God-loving souls, makes a monumental impact on our mind and eventually sculpts this life and beyond. When we engage in satsaṅg, we are blessed with the invaluable guidance of Hari-Guru. First, we begin receiving higher knowledge that descends from a perfect authority. The divine nectar of knowledge that Shree Krishan imparted to Brahma, the creator, flows down to us through Guru-parampara. When we accept this knowledge, it unlocks the door to our eternal welfare.
Secondly, when we partake in satsaṅg activities – chanting His glorious names, listening to the enlightening discourses, discussing with fellow satsaṅgees, singing melodious kirtans, relishing His delightful pastimes, and several other ways to practice devotion – our mind is firmly fixed in God. That is why, while extoling the greatness of satsaṅg, Saint Tulsiday states:
भक्ति स्वतन्त्र सकल सुख खानी | बिनु सतसंग न पावे प्रानी |
bhakti swatantra sakal sukh khāni | binu satsaṅg na pāwe prāni |
“Devotion, a mine of bliss, is independent of everything, but is not viable without satsaṅg.” Further, when we are part of a satsaṅg, we are amidst the satsaṅgees, who are traversing the same path. Such a spiritual companionship nourishes and inspires us, to progress on the inward journey.
See JKYog Satsaṅg Centers, to find out whether there is a satsaṅg near you or to contact one.
Sādhana (Spiritual Practice)
Any expertise in any field – science, literature, music, dance, athletics, oratory, business, etc. - is accomplished through practice. Similarly, to progress on the spiritual path, we need to do sādhana (spiritual practice) daily. This is the only sure way we can purify our heart and attain peace of mind. When Arjun says that the mind is more obstinate and turbulent than the wind, Shree Krishna assures:
असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं चलम् |
अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ||
asanśhayaṁ mahā-bāho mano durnigrahaṁ chalam
abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa cha gṛihyate (Bhagavad Gita 6-35)
“O mighty-armed one, what you say is correct; the mind is indeed very difficult to restrain. But by practice and detachment, it can be controlled.”
Hence, we need to take out time to do daily sadhana. “Shutting ourselves out from the world, we should do meditation, contemplation, and devotion. This will help purify the mind and fill it with noble thoughts and aspirations. Then, while doing our worldly duties, we should practice working in divine consciousness, through the technique of karm Yog. In this manner, we will be able to sustain the elevated state of consciousness gathered during the daily sādhana throughout the day.” [**]
If you wish to make spiritual progress a part of your daily life, and take a step towards inner peace and joy, you are only a click away. Join the Daily Sadhana online courses, where H. H. Swami Mukundananda, with his teachings of Vedas, Upanishads, Shreemad Bhagavatam, Purānas, Bhagavad Gita, along with other Eastern and Western philosophies, gently guides you through, revealing the simple and straightforward path to God-realization that you can practice.
We - the souls - are on this earth to serve Him. Our scriptures repeatedly proclaim that we are the servants of the Supreme Lord. The Padma Purān states:
दास भूतमिदम् तस्य जगत् स्थावर जन्गमम् |
श्रीमन्नारायन स्वामी जगतान् प्रभुरीश्वरः ||
dāsa bhūtamidaṁ tasya jagatsthāvara jangamam |
śhrīmannārāyaṇa swāmī jagatānprabhurīśhwaraḥ ||
“The Supreme Lord is the controller and the Lord of the world. All moving, and nonmoving entities in this creation are his servants.”
Therefore, our real constitutional position is of an eternal servant of God. That is why, upon his arrival in Lanka, Hanuman announces, “Dasoham Kosalendraya (I am the servant of Lord Ram.)” Śhree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed, “jīvera svarūpa haya kṛṣṇera nitya dāsa (every living being is an eternal servant of the Supreme Lord, Shree Krishna.)”
It is not as though we have to become His servants; we are His servants and have to remain so.
Now, the question of paramount importance is, “What is seva?” Seva means to endeavor for the happiness of the Lord, and to desire only that which will please Him. When we realize that we, the souls, are tiny fragments of God’s energy, we naturally give up our desire to enjoy; instead, we aim to serve Him for His happiness. That is the true nature of devotion. As H. H. Swami Mukundananda repeatedly elucidates, “Devotion destroys the subtle envy of the soul towards God and enables us to accept the humble position as His tiny parts and servitors.” Hence, we should desire only to serve the Lord.
We can serve Him in three ways - with tan, man, and dhan (body, mind, and wealth.) As we know, the Supreme Lord does not need any of these three, as He is the one who has bestowed these upon us, for our welfare. We can use these to either serve God and elevate ourselves or serve Maya and sink deeper into the mire of this material world. However, nishkam seva (selfless service) is possible only when He grants it. That, we can attract only when we yearn deeply to serve Hari-Guru for their happiness.
Of the three modes of service – body, mind, and wealth – mind is the prime requisite. Whether we are serving with the body or wealth, where we attach our mind is of utmost importance. It is only when we tether our mind to His feet and serve Him under the guidance of the Guru, we start inching closer to Him. Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj emphasizes this above everything else, as the most powerful means for purifying the mind:
सौ बातन की बात इक, धरु मुरलीधर ध्यान |
बढवह सेवा-वासना, यह ज्ञानन ज्ञान ||
sau bātana kī bāta ika, dharu muralīdhara dhyāna,
baṛhavahu sevā-vāsanā, yaha sau jñānana jñāna. (Bhakti Śhatak, 74)
“Out of a hundred advices for purification, the most important is this. Let your mind be absorbed in the divine flute-player, Shree Krishna, and keep increasing your desire to serve him. This counsel is more important than a hundred such gems of knowledge.”
Visit JKYog Charity, if you wish to serve and be an integral part of the social and spiritual charitable activities of JKYog across the globe.
Although the soul is a fragmental part of God, the soul is tiny while God is infinite. God and the soul are both spiritual in quality, but different in quantity. God is infinite while the individual soul is finite. Hence, the effort of the soul is also limited. To succeed in controlling the obdurate mind, God’s grace is essential. The Vedas state: tapaḥ prabhāvād devaprasādācha (Śhvetāśhvatar Upaniṣhad, 6.21) “Your efforts and the grace of God, both are essential for success.” However, how do we attract His grace?
“The Supreme Lord has an eternal condition for bestowing His grace. He says, ‘O soul, I am ever-eager to fill you with infinite bounties of My divine grace, but before that, you must surrender yourself to Me.’ Even a worldly father will not hand over all his precious possessions to his child, the same way, the grace of God is not a whimsical act. He has perfectly rational rules based upon which He bestows it. If God did not follow rules while bestowing grace, people’s faith in Him would break.” [***] He has repeatedly proclaimed this rule in all the scriptures. For example, Shree Krishna advises Uddhav:
माम् एकम् एव शरणम् आत्मानं सर्व-देहिनाम् |
याहि सर्वात्म-भावेन मया स्या ह्य् अकुतो-भयः ||
mām ekam eva śharaṇam ātmānaṁ sarva-dehinām |
yāhi sarvātma-bhāvena mayā syā hy akuto-bhayaḥ ||
(Shreemad Bhagavatham 11.12.15)
“O Uddhav! Giving up all forms of mundane social and religious conventions, simply surrender unto me, the Supreme Soul of all souls. Only then can you cross over this material ocean and become fearless.” This is His eternal law, which He has stated in all the religious traditions of the world.
“śharaṇāgati (surrender) to God is not an external act. śharaṇāgati is a state of the consciousness; it is an internal condition of the mind, intellect, and ego. Surrender requires the fulfillment of six aspects, explains Swamiji in his Bhagavad Gita commentary and how it helps to cross over Maya.