Sadhana of the Yoga of Synthesis
by Swami Sivananda
Logical chopping, clever hair-splitting arguments, intellectual gymnastics and word jugglery will not help you in attaining Self-realisation. You must harmoniously develop your head, heart and hand through the practice of the Yoga of Synthesis. Then only you will attain perfection and integral development.
It is easy to repeat "Aham Brahma Asmi" or "Sivoham," but it is very difficult to feel it and recognise the oneness of all beings. No Samadhi is possible till the impurities of the mind are removed by untiring selfless service, Japa, Kirtan and Upasana. The tossing of the mind can be removed by Japa and Upasana. How can you expect to have Brahma Bhavana when the mind is oscillating and jumping?
It is only people like Dattatreya and Yajnavalkya who are really fit for Vedantic Sadhana and repeating "Sivoham." It is only those who have gone above body-consciousness can really say with emphasis and force "The world is illusory. There is no world. This world is like mirage or dream." You are all Rottis and Dhal only. You live in Annamaya Kosha all the twenty-four hours. If there is no sugar in tea, no salt or less in Dhal you are upset. You cannot take your food. It is simply absurd and meaningless if you repeat "Sivoham" or "Aham Brahma Asmi" or "Soham."
You think you are in the state of Turiya, highest Jnana Bhumika or the stage of wisdom. You imagine you have gone above body-consciousness, but you will hopelessly fail when you are put to the practical test, when burning charcoal is applied to your body. Lord Buddha was tested. Mara appeared before him and enticed him. Appar and other saints were all tested. They came out victorious in test.
The superstructure of Vedanta can only be built when the foundation has been laid strongly by the practice of Yama-Niyama, when the heart has been purified thoroughly through untiring selfless service and Upasana or worship of Saguna Brahman. The subtle evil Vrittis that are lurking in the mind can only be destroyed in toto only through the grace of the Lord. You cannot eradicate them through individual efforts or Sadhana, even in crores of lives. The Lord chooses that man whom He wishes to take to His feet and makes him perfect and free. This is the emphatic declaration of the Kathopanishad also.
One may deliver a lecture on Advaita Philosophy for several hours. One may interpret a verse in hundred and one ways. One may give a discourse on one verse of the Gita for a week and yet these people may not possess an iota of devotion or practical realisation of Vedantic oneness. It is all dry intellectual exercise. Nothing more than that. Vedanta is a living experience. A Vedanti need not advertise that he is an Advaitin. The sweet divine aroma of Vedantic oneness will be ever emanating from him. Everybody will feel this.
A Vedanti feels himself ashamed to bow or prostrate before an idol in the temple. He feels that his Advaita will evaporate if he prostrates. Study the lives of the reputed Tamil Saints, Appar, Sundarar, Sambandhar etc. They had the highest Advaitic realisation. They saw Lord Siva everywhere and yet they visited all temples of Siva, prostrated before the idol and sang hymns, which are on record now. The sixty-three Nayanar Saints practised Chariyai and Kiriyai only and attained to realisation. They swept the floor of the temple, collected flowers, made garlands for the Lord and put on lights in the temple. They were illiterate, but attained the highest realisation. They were practical Yogins and their hearts were saturated with pure devotion. They were an embodiment of Karma Yoga. All practised the Yoga of Synthesis. The idol in the temple was all Chaitanya or consciousness for them. It was not a mere block of stone.
How difficult it is to remove this tea habit, a habit which you have contracted within these few years only. If you do not take it for a day you complain you get headache, constipation, etc. You are not able to work. How weak you have become! Then how much more difficult will it be to eradicate the evil Vrittis which are deep-rooted in the mind and which have gained great strength through repetition from time immemorial.
It is easy to become a lecturer on Vedanta. If you sit in a library for some years and enrich your vocabulary and phraseology and commit to memory some passages you can deliver good lectures, in two or three years, but it is not so easy to eradicate an evil quality. A real aspirant only who is doing Sadhana will realise his difficulty.
Just close your eyes now and find out how many really virtuous selfless actions you have done during your life-time, which can be really consecrated as offerings unto the Lord, and which can really please the Lord. There may not be any selfless, praiseworthy action at all. The practice of Karma Yoga does not require much wealth. It demands a willing heart to serve humanity. If you find a poor man suffering on the roadside, take him on your back and admit him in the hospital, serve and nurse the poor sick persons who live in your neighbourhood. Go to the hospital and see the sick persons with a loving heart. Pray for their speedy recovery. Study the Gita in their presence. Acts of this description will purify your heart and make you feel and recognise the oneness of all beings. Then you will smile with the rose, converse with the trees, running brooks and mountains. Even if you do one noble act without any tinge of selfishness as an offering unto the Lord, it will purify your heart, turn your mind at once towards the Lord and qualify yourself for the reception of the Divine Light and Divine Grace.
Mere sitting on Padmasana in a closed room with closed eyes without removing the dirt or weeds in your heart will not in any way help you to attain Samadhi or Self-realisation. You may be building castles in the air, Mano-rajya. You may be in the state of Tandri or half-sleepy condition. You may be passing into Tushnimbhoota Avastha or natural state of mind. Ignorant aspirants mistake all these states for Samadhi or realisation. This is a serious blunder. Even if one can meditate seriously and deeply with one-pointedness for half an hour he will be a dynamic Yogi. He will radiate peace, joy, power and strength to thousands who come in contact with him.
A real Vedanti who is feeling oneness with all cannot keep even a cup of milk for himself. He will share everything with others. First he will see if any sick man is really in need of milk. He will run to him with panting breath and give him at once and feel joy in such service. Nowadays retired people live on the banks of the Ganga, study a few books on Vedanta and think that they have attained the state of Jivanmukti. They spend everything for themselves and send the major portion of their pension to their sons. They have not developed their heart. They cannot feel for others. They have not made even an inch of progress in the spiritual path, because they have no Chittavisalata or Udaravritti (expression of heart). They remain in the same state as they were some fifteen years ago. This is indeed a sad state! Let them live on Bhiksha for one year and serve the poor with their whole pension. They will have Self-realisation within this year. They should leave the house for two months without money in winter and roam about in unknown places living on alms. They will become humble, compassionate and more generous. They will develop will-power and endurance. They will understand and realise the mysterious ways of the Lord during their wanderings. They will have more faith in the Lord. They will experience the pangs of hunger and the stinging of cold. They will understand well now how the poor people really suffer. They will distribute blankets to the poor and feed the hungry because they realise now fully their sufferings.
You are wasting your time. You are not practising introspection. You get up in the morning, take tea, put on your suits and hat and go to the office for work. You go to the club, gossip in the evening, play cards, visit cinemas and snore till 8 a.m. Your whole life is wasted like this. You are not doing any Japa or meditation. You do not know which Vritti is troubling you, which Guna is functioning at a particular time. You do not know anything about mind-control. You do not know what is Brahma-Vichara, what is Atma-Chintana, what is Brahma-Nishtha. You have not taken recourse to Satsanga with Mahatmas, Yogins and Bhagavatas. You have no programme of life. Even after retirement you try to enter State Service as you do not know how to spend the time in spiritual pursuits, as you have no inner life of reflection and enquiry and as you have not led a life of spiritual discipline in your younger days. You have lived in vain to fill up your pockets and bellies.
Sankirtan is a great help even for Vedantins. When the mind is tired Sankirtan will fill it with new vigour and energy. Sankirtan will relax the mind, elevate it, and prepare it for another sitting in meditation. When the mind revolts to meditate, Sankirtan will coax it and tame it and bring it back to the Lakshya or the point. Those who are practising meditation only can understand this, can know this truth.
Can you meditate for 24 hours? Certainly not. Then how are you going to spend twentyfour hours. In the name of meditation do not allow yourself to become absolutely Tamasic. When the mind begins to wander, when you find it difficult to focus it, come out of the room at once and do some useful service. Keep up the current of meditation while serving also, or do some mental Japa vigorously. Meditation should make you cheerful, introspective, reflective, strong, peaceful, energetic and dynamic. If you are lacking in these virtues surely there is some error in your meditation. Perhaps you are not fit for continuous Dhyana Yoga. You should combine work with meditation; then only you will evolve quickly.
A bird cannot fly without two wings. Though the bird may have two wings yet it cannot fly without the tail. Tail balances and directs the bird to fly in the right direction and saves it from falling. This tail is Bhakti which balances Karma and Jnana. The two wings represent Karma and Jnana. Karma, Bhakti and Jnana are necessary to make you perfect; and to develop the head, hand and heart, and help you in reaching the goal.
Have you seen the picture of Lord Siva's family? Mother Parvati is in the Centre. She has Ganesa and Subrahmanya on her sides. Ganesa is the Lord of wisdom. Subrahmanya is the Lord of action. He is the General of the Army of Devas. Mother Parvati is Bhakti. You should learn a spiritual lesson from this picture. This picture teaches that you can attain perfection only by the practice of Yoga of Synthesis.
Lord Krishna is an adept in the Yoga of Synthesis. He is a charioteer. He is a Statesman. He is a Master Musician. He is an expert Rasa-lila dancer. He is a dexterous archer. He says "There is nothing in the three worlds that should be done by Me, nor anything unattained." Sri Sankara, Lord Jesus, Lord Buddha were all masters of Yoga of Synthesis. Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, Sadhu Vaswani, etc., were all practising the Supreme Yoga, the Yoga of Synthesis.
Jnana Yoga is rooted in Sadhana-Chatushtaya (discrimination and self-denial), blossoms as Brahma Jnana and bears the fruit of Moksha or Kaivalya (Absolute Independence), freedom and perfection.
Bhakti is rooted in faith and self-surrender, blossoms as intense Prema and bears the fruit of communion with the Lord (Isvara-prapti) or ecstasy or Bhavasamadhi.
Raja Yoga is rooted in Yama (right conduct) and Niyama, blossoms as Ekagra-Chitta (one-pointedness of mind) and bears the fruit of Asamprajnata or Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Superconscious state).
Karma Yoga is rooted in self-sacrifice, blossoms as Chitta Suddhi (purity of heart) and Chitta-Visalata (expansion of heart) and bears the fruit of Knowledge of the Imperishable.
Kundalini Yoga is rooted in Satya and Brahmacharya, blossoms as the grace of the Divine Mother and bears the fruit of union with Lord Siva.
Hatha Yoga is rooted in Asanas and Pranayama, blossoms as restfulness, and bears fruit of perfect health, long life and awakening of Kundalini.