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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.
I have been quoting some verses from Bhagavad Gita and explaining what is real sādhanā, spiritual austerity. Today I thought I would say something about how religion and spirituality are related, if at all.
All religious thoughts, practices and customs when they become reformed, refined and filtered, they become spirituality. Spirituality is the scientific presentation and pursuit of religion. In religion, the focus is always on an external, invisible God and that too at an infinite distance. In spirituality, the entire focus is on one’s own personality and its different levels of action and interaction. This fundamental difference, I would like all people to know well. Religion becomes insufficient in life at some time or another. Then spirituality is the only rescue, refuge, and succour.
Imagine Arjuna who was in a forest exile for twelve years. Following that, they also had the austere persecution of incognito life-Ajñāta Vāsa, for one year. Can you imagine the tremendous austerity that the Pandavas, especially Arjuna, underwent? During that time, he had an opportunity to do austerity even forsaking sleep to get his Pāśupatāstra. He also had Gāṇḍīva, the symbol of all material acquisitions and possessions, making him a greater victor. With all these additional embellishments, after thirteen years of preparation and contemplation, he came to the battlefield with the added fortune of having Sri Krishna as the charioteer.
Our tradition and śāstras speak very greatly about the Sārathi, the charioteer. The victory of war by the master of the chariot, the Rathi, depends to a very large extent upon the mission the Sārathi fulfills. The Sārathihas to discern the army positions, and the main people who are fighting there, where the chariot has to be led, who has to be confronted at what point. Whenever the Rathi’s (the master of the chariot’s) mind sinks and becomes despondent, the Sārathi will have to instill a lot of enthusiasm, fervor and otherwise. So the position as a charioteer of Krishna was something very crucial and it was not something demeaning at all.
So he asked Krishna to take his chariot in front so that he could examine the army and verify with whom he had to fight. Krishna took the chariot, stationed it in front of Bhishma and Drona and suddenly Arjuna crumbled physically, mentally, intellectually and even in the Jiva level. What does it mean? I would like all of you to think. Here is a great towering personality like Arjuna who had fought and won a number of wars and who had come to Kurukshetra to win the great Mahabharata war with additional reinforcements and blessings, suddenly finding himself unable to fight. Is it due to lack of religion? No! Is it due to lack of austerity? No! Is it due to lack of fighting wisdom? No! Is it due to lack of having a proper charioteer? No! There could be no charioteer better than Krishna.
Then what is it that he was suffering from? All his religious merits and austerity proved futile in front of the Mahabharata war. The only thing left for Arjuna was gaining spiritual merits and spiritual wisdom. Krishna instantly started administering a gospel by which he was instilling, with every word and syllable, fresh insight, fresh enthusiasm, fresh vigour, fresh resolve and fresh composure and settlement. Krishna was passing all these merits to Arjuna through words and communication. So, you should understand what it is to have a dialogue with a Knower of Truth. Dialogue is the only means by which the teacher imparts whatever he has and he wants to instill into the disciple. That is why our Vedas say:
The communication through words, through dialogue between the teacher and the disciple is the sole factor in the enlightenment and fulfillment of a seeker, a spiritual person. Now, whatever Krishna said became spirituality and spiritual wisdom. That is why I say spirituality is religion reformed, refined and applied directly on one’s own person bereft of, without any external factor, aid or means. In spirituality, you read or hear; and following that you contemplate upon whatever you have read to focus on the essential part. When that contemplation is over, the mind further sinks down into a state of absorption into the infinite expanse of the Self. Yesterday, I was speaking about Samatva. I would like to explain further with reference to another verse in Bhagavad Gita:
Krishna started bringing the word Samatva after explaining that life is an interaction between the senses and the objects of the world. Right from the morning when you wake up till you go to sleep, you are interacting with the world objects either in the house or in the office or in the market place or in the transport, public roads, anywhere and everywhere. It is either seeing, hearing, touching, tasting or smelling. All the pollution in the air we are contracting through what? Through breathing, through smelling. All the pollution in water and in the vegetables we consume. Through what? Through mouth, through tongue. Every interaction is a sensory interaction and throughout the wakeful hours we are interacting with the objects. The interactions may be varied, plural and even infinite. Understand it. Mark my words! The interactions maybe visual, auditory, taste-wise, touch-wise or smell-wise. All these various interactions when they enter into the mind, they produce only two responses - Sukha and Duhkha, happiness and misery.
So the entire world in our experience becomes only two! Only two! Only...two! Whether you are interacting with the members of the family or with members in your office or members of the public, whether you are interacting with one set of circumstances or another or another. It is after all senses in your body and objects outside. It is interactions. These varied interactions enter into the mind level and there only two responses and reactions are produced. Now, these are inevitable, unavoidable.
Therefore, Krishna says, look at them with an even mind. Regard them as inevitable on the one hand, at the same time transitory and fleeting. They cannot but be. They will arise and subside. They will emerge and get submerged. So, don’t attach much of an importance to these. They will come and go, come and go. And you don’t come and you don’t go. So, between the coming and going Sukha-duhkhas and the non-coming and non-going ‘you’, yourself the ‘I’, you are far greater. You initiate the interaction, you sustain the interaction, and you conclude the interaction. Interactions are not independent of you. To the extent you permit them, they occur; to the extent you sustain them, they are; to the extent you conclude them, they disappear. So, you are the master and the interactions and the interactional consequences are the servants. Now, look at them with Samatva he says. And this Samatva is the sole message of Bhagavad Gita which means that this is the sole message of refined and reformed religion and religious practices.
Now he gives a concluding remark:
इहैव तैर्जितः सर्गो येषां साम्ये स्थितं मनः।
By those people the entire world and worldly life stand conquered. They have won over the entire worldly life. When? येषां साम्ये स्थितं मनः - When their mind is sufficiently established in equalness towards sukha and duhkha. My dear sukha, you cannot be forever! My dear duhkha, you are not my enemy because you bring sukha! My dear sukha, you are not a very good friend because you bring duhkha! Sukha disappearing duhkha occurs, duhkha disappearing sukha occurs. They are mutual. Neither of them can be alone. So, I am going to have an equal acceptance of both and an equal indifference towards both.
This kind of an Samatva attitude when it gets sufficiently established in you, instead of becoming an attitude, it becomes a culture, a refinement, a character, a sublimation, an enrichment, an elevation, a uniform note in you, then the entire world is won over by you. Won over by you! Why? The entire world and its variety can only enter you through the five senses and these entries can produce only sukha-duhkhas and they disappear when you sleep. Sleep is also your state, as is the wakeful state. You woke up and who is going to sleep? You are going to sleep. You wake up, you interact with the world, and you stop your interactions and go to sleep. Means what? You withdraw into yourself. You have the power to generate interactions and invite Sukha-duhkhas and you also have the power to dissolve them and be above them. So, do not doubt this potential and possibility. So, when you are able to do it through the practice of Samatva and Sāmya becomes identified with you, then he says that the world is conquered, it is overcome.
निर्दोषं हि समं ब्रह्म तमाद्ब्रह्मणि ते स्थिताः॥
What we call Brahma,
That Brahman in Sama. Therefore, when you attain Sāmya you attain Brahman. Brahman is devoid of all blemishes.
तस्माद्ब्रह्मणि ते स्थिताः | So, in the attainments of Sāmya towards Sukha-duhkhas, the seeker also will have attained Brahman which is the goal and fulfillment of life. Are you keen enough and discreet enough to understand this exposition? See how the entire world is allowed to be what it is and you are elevated to be what you should be. So, the Sukha-duhkhas which are the only gifts or resultants of your interaction are met with a Sama attitude. And when the Sama attitude becomes Sāmya, a character and refinement in you, the world stands conquered. You become the master and the world becomes a servant. This is called ‘Personal mastery’. A mastery which you are able to generate, preserve and excel in your personality.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.
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