Aphorisms of wisdom

Apr 01, 2016

‘Acquire a firm will and the utmost patience.’
-Sri Sri Ma Anandmayi

We begin our journey towards the supreme goal of life from where we stand. Just as it is good to be patient with others, it is equally necessary to be patient with ourselves. After all, when the desire to lead the spiritual life and live for others comes to us, we can be haunted by our past mistakes, by the amount of time we have wasted in selfish pursuits. But we must accept ourselves with all our strengths and weaknesses.

There are many obstacles on the spiritual path which can strengthen us, and these cannot be overcome unless we have infinite patience with ourselves. If we are patient with others, shouldn’t we be patient with ourselves as well ?

Each of us is individual with our own special qualities. We start now, where we are, with our partial love for prestige and a little for the Lord. All of us, no matter what our past has been, no matter our present drawbacks are, can take to the spiritual life, and we will progress at our own pace. It is not good to compare one person’s progress with others.

‘Dreams are real as long as they last, can we say more of life ?’
-Henry Havelock Ellis

When we wake up from a dream, the mystics say, we do not pass from unreality to reality; we pass from a lower level of reality to a higher level. And, they add, there is a higher level still, compared with which this waking life of ours is as insubstantial as a dream. To put it rather bluntly, we are living in our sleep, dreaming that things like money and pleasure can make us happy. When they do not, it’s a nightmare.

Yet until we do wake up, nothing sounds more absurd than the assertion that we are dreaming and nothing sound more solid than this word of senses. Why should this be so ? If original goodness is our real natural, why are we unable to see it ? The mystic’s answer is simple : because we see life not as it is but as we are. We see through a glass darkly, through the distorting lenses of the mind or the layers of feeling, habit, instinct and memory that cover the pure core of goodness deep within.

‘He who would be serene and pure needs but one thing, detachment.’
-Master Ekhart

Most of us identify ourselves with our pet opinions. Then, when we are contradicted, we take it personally and get upset. If we could look at ourselves with some detachment, we would see how absurd this is. There is scarcely any more connection between me and my opinion than there is between me and my car. I have a close friend who is devoted to her volkswagen “bug”. If I compliment her on it, she is pleased, if I tell her what Ralph Nader says about Volkswagens, she feels insulted. But why ? Where is the connection ? She is not a VW “bug”.

Once we realize at a deeper level of consciousness that we are not our opinions, most
of the resentment in differences of opinion disappears. There is nothing wrong with disagreement. In fact, sometimes it is necessary to disagree. But we should do so with complete respect for the other person.

‘Suffering is the ancient law of love; there is no quest without pain; there is no lover who is not also a martyr.’
-Heinrich Suso

Practically speaking, in order to learn to love, we need a tool for transforming anger into sympathy. We need some kind of brake to apply when the mind shifts into high gear under the influence of anger and other negative emotions. The mind is so used to having its own way in almost everything, that all it knows is how to race out of control.

How many of you would ever step into your  Pontiac or Toyota if you knew the brake
could suddenly fail ? I could say, “You have plenty of gas, a big engine, gorgeous upholstery, radial tyres, eight-channel stereo tape deck, ashtray. Why don’t you go ahead ?” You would reply, “But I can’t stop the thing !” The vast majority of us, amazingly enough, manage to travel through life wihout knowing how to brake the engine of the mind.

We can all install a simple but effective brake, the mantram. Whenever you feel agitated, annoyed, impolite or downright angry, keep repeating the mantram. Gradually the mind will race less and less. When the brake is throughly road-tested, you will have the equipment to be patient and kind in every situation. You will be ready to face the tests that real love demands.

‘That one I love who is incapable of ill will, and returns love for hatred. Living beyond the reach of I and mine, And of pain and pleasure, full of mercy, contented, self-controlled, of firm resolve, with all his heart and all his mind given to Me-with such a one I am in love.’
-Sri Krishna(Bhagavad Gita)

In personal relationships, we all get troubled when we do our best to be kindsomeone and that person treats us with hostility or ill-will in return. This is common in life today, and most of us quickly reach the end of our tether. “I don’t want to see you again.” We say. “I want to get far away from you as possible.”

All of us have these human impulses. But that is just where the Gita or Jesus or the Buddha would say, “No. That is the way of the timid. That is the way of weak.” stick it out : not by becoming a doormat, not by blindly obeying whatever command the other person gives you, but by resolutely refusing to hurt anyone, no matter how much you
have been hurt.

Compassion comes with insight into the heart of life, as we see more clearly the unseen forces that drive a person into action. Ultimately, compassion extends to every creature.

‘Dive deep, O mind, dive deep
In the ocean of God’s beauty;
If you descend to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of love.’
-Bengali Hymn

Don’t think the purpose of meditation is to go deep into consciousness, wrap a blanket around yourself and say, “How cosy ! I’m going to curl up in here by myself, let the world burn.” Not at all. We go deep into meditation so that we can reach out farther and farther to the world outside.

In meditation, we are going deep into ourselves, into the utter solitude that is within. As a counter balance to this, it is necessary to be with people to laugh with them, to sing with them and to enjoy the healthy activities of life. It is not a luxury on the spiritual path to have hard work or to have the company of spiritually oriented people; these are necessary for our spiritual development.

Meditation and selfless action go hand in hand. When we try to live more for others than for ourselves, this will deepen our meditation. When we deepen our meditation, more and more energy will be released with which we can love and help others.

‘Go to an enlightened Master and falling at his feet, request him to liberate you. He will give you liberation.’
-Dada Bagavan (Holistic Scientist)

‘Thou wast seeking what thou shouldest offer in thy behalf, offer thyself. For what doth God ask of thee except thyself ? Since in the whole earthly creation He made nothing better than thee.’
-Saint Augustine

‘Take refuge in Me alone. Grieve not, I will liberate you
-Krishna Bhagavan

The scriptures of all religions have a great deal to say about renunciation. They are not asking us to renounce our stamp collection or our tickets to the world series; they are asking us to sacrifice ourself-will. Reducing self will is a terribly painful renunciation to
make, because the ego will try every trick in the book to undermine our effort.

Just as the mountain climber does not begin with Mount Everest, you cannot get of all your-self-will immediately. Practically speaking it is best to start on a very small scale. When you go out to dinner with a friend, instead of painstakingly choosing, just what you like, have what the other person is having. More likely than not it will be something you would just as soon pass over. That is the time to smile and enjoy it. If two people who care deeply about one another can do this, can learn to like what the person they love likes, they have  gotten a little of their-self-will out of the way. They cannot help moving closer to each other.