Qualification for Sadhana
by Swami Sivananda
If you serve God with a fraction of the zeal with which you serve mammon or your wife and children you will certainly realise God within a very short period. Even one moment of intense love for God with burning Viraha, God-intoxication and keen longing will suffice to bring you face to face with God.
Works should be performed without attachment, without the feeling of doing them for one's own personal purity. Perform works merely for God's sake, abandoning even such attachment as this-"May God be pleased." You must be prepared to abandon the work at any time however interesting the work may be, however much you like the work. Whenever the inner voice of the soul commands you to give up the work, you must at once relinquish it. Attachment to any work will bind you. Understand well these subtle secrets of Karma Yoga and march boldly in the path of Karma Yoga.
Maya havocs through imagination of the mind. Woman is not beautiful but the imagination is beautiful. Sugar is not sweet but the imagination is sweet. Food is not palatable but the imagination is palatable. Man is not weak but the imagination is weak. Understand the nature of Maya and mind and become wise. Curb this imagination of the mind by Vichara or right thinking and rest in Brahman wherein there is neither imagination nor Sankalpa, nor thought.
You show your anger towards your servants, inferiors and helpless weak persons only but you do not show it towards your Master or boss or superiors or strong persons. Why? Because you practise some sort of self-restraint on account of fear towards your Master. Can you not practise self-restraint towards your servants also? If you attempt to see the Lord in the servant, you will not become angry towards your servant. Anger will bring about your destruction. Under the influence of anger only you commit crimes, do wrong actions, insult your elders and speak harsh words. Therefore you should control anger by all means.
Develop patience, tolerance, mercy and love. Practise Vichara. Enquire "Who am I?" Serve others with Atma Bhava. Enquire within yourself. "What will I gain by becoming angry? My whole energy is lost when I become angry. The Self is one. The Self is common in all beings. In hurting another I hurt myself. There is nothing but my own Self. There is no anger in Atman. Atman is an embodiment of peace." This evil Vritti will die by itself.
Some people have curiosity for the spiritual line. They have no real thirsting for liberation. They think that they will get certain powers or Siddhis if they do some Yogic practices. When they do not attain the powers they lose patience, give up the practices, abandon the spiritual path and pooh-pooh the Yogis and Yoga. Mere curiosity will not help you to attain any spiritual progress. Curiosity-mongering is more abominable than mischief-mongering. Introspect. Analyse your thoughts and find out whether you have real spiritual hunger or mere curiosity-mongering. Transmute curiosity-mongering into real thirsting for salvation by constant Satsanga, study of good religious books, prayer, Japa and meditation.
Your mind will sometimes shudder when evil thoughts enter your mind. This is a sign of your spiritual progress. You are growing spiritually. You will be much tormented when you think of some of your evil actions committed in the past. This is also a sign of your spiritual upheaval. You will not repeat now the same actions. Your mind will tremble, your body will quiver whenever a wrong Samskara or evil action urges you to do the same act, through force of habit. Continue your meditation with full vigour and earnestness. All memories of evil actions, all evil thoughts, all evil promptings of Satan will die by themselves. You will be established in perfect purity and peace.
Passion is lurking in you. You may ask me the reason why you become frequently angry. Anger is nothing but a modification of passion. When passion is not gratified it assumes the form of anger. The real cause for anger is ungratified passion. It expresses itself in the form of anger, when you deal with the mistakes of your servants. This is an indirect cause or external stimulus for its expression. Raga-Dvesha currents are not thoroughly eradicated. They are only attenuated or thinned out to some extent. The Indriyas or senses are yet turbulent. They are subjugated to a small degree. They are not perfectly curbed, disciplined or subdued. There are still undercurrents of Vasanas and Trishnas. The outgoing tendency of the senses is not totally checked. You are not established in Pratyahara. The Vrittis are still powerful. There is not strong and sustained discrimination or dispassion. The aspiration for the divine has not become intense. Rajas and Tamas are still havocing. There is only a small increase in the quantity of Sattva. Evil Vrittis are not thinned out. They are still powerful. Positive virtues have not been cultivated to a considerable degree. That is the reason why you have not attained perfect concentration. Purify the mind first. Concentration will come by itself.
Saguna Upasakas or those who meditate on the images of the Lord should do Trataka first with open eyes till they can visualise a clear-cut, well-defined picture. Later on they can visualise the picture with closed eyes. The picture must be very pleasing to the mind and the eyes. It should have a good, agreeable background. When you have created a strong mental image of your Lord in the mind by continuous practice of meditation on one form you should not disturb the mental image by changing the picture. Stick to the same picture and strengthen and feel the mental image, through repeated practice of Trataka, visualisation and constant meditation on the form. Through force of habit the same mental image will appear quite easily in your mind. Sometimes you may change even your Mantra or formula when the mind is tired or wants variety but do not change your mental image or Bhava.
Environments are not bad but your mind is bad. Your mind is not disciplined properly. Wage war with this terrible and horrible mind. Do not complain against bad environments but complain first against your own mind. Train your mind first. If you practise concentration amidst unfavourable environments you will grow stronger, you will develop your will-force quickly, you will become a dynamic personality. See good in everything and transmute evil into good. This is real Yoga. This is the real work of a Yogi.