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Saints and Mystics

What is a saint exactly? In the minds of some people, a saint may simply be a nice person who smiles a lot and does various good deeds. While on some level this may be accurate, at the highest level a saint is something quite different. He or she has realised the ultimate truth of Existence-call it God, Nirvana, Satori or by whatever other term. A saint is no longer a mere human being, but an enlightened expression of the Absolute. Saints are not limited to one tradition, one time period, or one country; they can be male or female, younger in age or older, very educated or very simple, very active or quite content to not be outwardly engaged. The variations go on and on in a beautiful expression of the limitless divine play. Certainly the hallowed soil of India has felt the footfalls of many great saints, but as mentioned before, saints appear as needed in every conceivable time and place.

Swami Sivananda believed that just about the most elevated form of spiritual instruction was observing or reading about the lives of saints. He said about himself, "I don't speak much or give great lectures. My life is my teachings." This same dictum could be applied to so many of the saints. Certainly one can benefit a great deal by studying their teachings and writings, if there were any, but in terms of inspiration and encouragement for the seeker, there is hardly any study better than their own lives.

In this section, Gurudev's writings about the ancient saints of India, the prophets, the acharyas, and the lives and teachings of the saints of both East and West are presented. Gurudev uses their lives as a tool to allow us to have an insight into the enlightened condition, and thereby gives us the help we need to follow and emulate these great people.

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