Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Q.: You sometimes say that we should avoid company. That is not always possible. If one is working one has to mix with all kinds of people. One can't always avoid them.

Annamalai Swami: In such situations one should take the attitude of someone who is acting in a drama. Outwardly one should do whatever actions are necessary, but inwardly, one should be always aware of the center, the consciousness which makes itself known as the feeling 'I am'.

I say 'avoid bad company' but ultimately bad company is just a part of the mind. There is no bad company in the Self. While you are trying to disentangle yourself from the mind it will be helpful for you to avoid bad company. Whenever that is not possible, make an extra effort to withdraw into the Self. If you can establish yourself there, the currents from other peoples minds cannot affect you. If you do have to mix with unspiritual people, don't make any judgments about them. Don't think 'This a bad person', or 'I don't like this person.' The less you identify with the mind when you are near such people, the better. ...

Be like a big tree. When the wind comes the branches and leaves are shaken but the trunk remains stationary. If you live in the mind you are always being tossed around like the branches and the twigs in a strong wind. The less you identify with the mind, the less movement there is. When you are aware of yourself as consciousness alone, with no trace of the mind being present, there is no movement at all, only unbroken peace and absolute stillness.

Q.: Swami, you often say that we should avoid bad acts. 
What exactly do you mean by a 'bad act'?

AS: In a general sense, anything which causes harm to other beings is a bad act. But one could also say that any act that keeps your attention away from the Self is a bad act. Identifying with the body and mind is the primal bad act because it is the source of all other bad acts.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Two ways of God-realization

There are two ways. One is the path of discrimination, the other is that of love. Discrimination means to know the distinction between the Real and the unreal. God alone is the real and permanent Substance; all else is illusory and impermanent. The magician alone is real; his magic is illusory. This is discrimination. 

Discrimination and renunciation. Renunciation means to have dispassion for the things of the world. One cannot acquire them all of a sudden. They must be practised every day. One should renounce 'woman and gold' mentally at first. Then, by the will of God, one can renounce it both mentally and outwardly

The other path is that of bhakti, or zealous love of God. Weep for God in solitude, with a restless soul, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Cry to your Mother Syama with a real cry, O mind! And how can She hold Herself from you? 

These, then, are the two means: practice and passionate attachment to God, that is to say, restlessness of the soul to see Him

The gist of the whole thing is that one must develop passionate yearning for God and practise discrimination and renunciation

-- Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

House Holder Devotees

For the householders Sri Ramakrishna did not prescribe the hard path of total renunciation. He wanted them to discharge their obligations to their families. Their renunciation was to be mental. Spiritual life could not he acquired by flying away from responsibilities. A married couple should live like brother and sister after the birth of one or two children, devoting their time to spiritual talk and contemplation. He encouraged the householders, saying that their life was, in a way, easier than that of the monk, since it was more advantageous to fight the enemy from inside a fortress than in an open field. He insisted, however, on their repairing into solitude every now and then to strengthen their devotion and faith in God through prayer, japa, and meditation. He prescribed for them the companionship of sādhus. He asked them to perform their worldly duties with one hand, while holding to God with the other, and to pray to God to make their duties fewer and fewer so that in the end they might cling to Him with both hands. He would discourage in both the householders and the celibate youths any lukewarmness in their spiritual struggles. He would not ask them to follow indiscriminately the ideal of non-resistance, which ultimately makes a coward of the unwary. 

-- Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Prof Krishnamurti Aiyer, an enlightened professor of physics said about Bhagavan:

" I observed the personal habits of Bhagavan and tried to follow his example. One noticed in Bhagavan's daily life, personal cleanliness, tidiness of dress, habitual wearing of vibhuti and kumkum on the forehead; equal sharing of all enjoyments with those around one; strict adherence to a time schedule; doing useful work however 'low' it be; never leaving a work unfinished; the pursuit of perfection in every action; ... never considering oneself superior to others; speaking the truth always, or strict silence if the expression of a truth would hurt or lower the reputation of others; perfect self-help, never asking another to do a piece of work which can be done by oneself; taking full responsibility for failure, if any, without shifting the blame on others; accepting success and failure with equanimity; never disturbing the peace of another; leaving the leaf-plate or plate clean after eating; complete non-interference in the affairs of others..."