A Programme of Sadhana
by Swami Sivananda
You must have a definite programme of life. Ask an ordinary man, "what is your programme of life?," he will tell you, "I want to retire as a Dewan in a state." Another will aspire to retire as an Engineer in a state. They cannot think further. Why? Because they have not got an introspecting or disciplined mind. He does not know how to spend his time. He does not know the benefits of getting up at 4 O' clock, Brahma Muhurta. He will waste his energy in playing cards. He has education and knowledge, but he does not know how to spend his time. So if he had trained himself when he remained in the world he would have been able to spend time usefully. He will be able to concentrate and devote himself to higher pursuits. If laziness stands in your way, you will at once come to know from the books that Pranayama will help you. Do some Sirshasana. Various other obstacles may come in through lack of a Guru by your side. It is only an earnest Sadhaka who will experience these obstacles. Ordinary people will not come across such obstacles. As soon as they practise Sadhana obstacles come up. You must avoid too much conversation. You must adjust yourself nicely. All these things are necessary. Too much of work, too much of talking-all these are obstacles and must be removed. A combined method seems to be suitable to the majority of Sadhakas. Attack the enemy from within and without. Do Pranayama and introspect, do Japa, study. By all these methods try to destroy the mental Vrittis. In these ways you will be able to control the mind easily.
All these accessories are necessary. He who is interested in the well-being of the world, he who has equal vision, he who has controlled his Indriyas, only that man can become a fit Arhat and through him only Atmic light can shine. Only such a man can do real service, since he will be able to realise that all are manifestations of the Lord.
Have you experienced anyone suffering from some disease? Could you remember if you had experience of anyone suffering great pain from lumbago or continuous fever? What sort of feeling was in you then? Just put yourself in the position of the sufferer and imagine the situation. You must be able to feel with the person suffering. You must feel that the suffering body is your body. You must distribute rice particles to those who are hungry. Why all these methods are prescribed is that you must feel that you are one with all Universe. It is to make yourself feel that way that all these are prescribed. A Rajasic man will feel himself proudly separate from others. A Tamasic man will never feel at all for others. It is the duty of the aspirants-those who are endowed with the blessings of the Lord to remove suffering, wherever it exists, as much as possible. You can do your little bit even if it is charity of a pie. You can go to the hospital, try to comfort patients and let them have some comforts. Then only you can feel that you are one with the whole universe. How else can we do it, if we have no mercy? People are merciless and that is the reason why they make no spiritual progress. You must cultivate the virtues of Maitri, Karuna and Mudita. Leave away the negative qualities of jealousy, hatred and cultivate love.
Today the world needs your services. It needs men like Nachiketas. He was educated by Lord Yama Himself. Nachiketas asked Lord Yama "Let me have knowledge of the soul." Lord Yama told him "You will have thousands of cows, wife, children, all the riches of the world. You will be an emperor and so on." But Nachiketas had no attraction for these. He wanted the ultimate Truth. He said, "Teach me, O Lord, what is it which is beyond cause and effect, which exists in the past, present and future. Let me have knowledge of the Supreme Being." We want men like Nachiketas, with discrimination between the Real and the unreal. The world is in need of persons of the type of Nachiketas. Try to imbibe from the inexhaustible spiritual wealth.
So, to attain this, there is the path of knowledge. There is the path of devotion. Devotion is in no way inferior to knowledge. Devotion is concentrated knowledge and service to the Lord. Let us therefore be firm, if we want Supreme Bliss and strength. Atman or God alone can give this. We should try our level best to attain the Goal.
Try to get up at 4 O' clock during Brahmamuhurta and meditate. Meditation is the seventh Anga in the Ashtanga Yoga. But we should do the preliminaries, so that we can be established in meditation. Getting up at 4 O' clock is extremely important. This habit should be firmly impressed in the mind even when one gets old. Start your prayers with a few Slokas and Sat Guru Strotras. Sing CHIDANANDA, CHIDANANDA. The Devatas will be pleased. You will get inspired. Inspiration will come to you as a flash. Try to picture to yourself "What have I to do today?" In the beginning sit for 15 minutes, gradually increase the time by half an hour to two hours. Do not allow distractions to disturb you. Do not spend much time in brushing the teeth and such other things. Those who are old can use an easy-chair. What is wanted is steady and comfortable posture. Try to gather the dissipated rays of the mind. The mind will begin to wander away. But try to get it again and again to the picture of the Lord if you are meditating on His form. Try to cultivate your will-power by sticking to your resolves. You will day by day gain strength. Keep away th of your pay every month towards charity. Keep a spiritual diary and note down how many times you got angry. You can eradicate the evil effects by additional Malas of Japa and fasting. Do not always run after money. Let it come to you by itself. Do not lose your temper. Even if a man abuses you, try to be patient and try to talk to him. Even if you are in the right tell him "Please excuse me." Keep up your Sadachara and cultivate virtues. They should become part and parcel of your daily conduct. Think well and grow. May all be happy.