The lambent light of the Atma shines with eternal effulgence. It has neither birth nor death, nor beginning nor end. Nor can it be destroyed. It is the immortal witness, the beholder of all space and time.
Embodiments of Love!
“ Na sreyo niyamam vina”, said Krishna to Arjuna. An unregulated, unsystematic, undisciplined and disorderly life cannot experience joy, goodness or well-being. One who controls and regulates the actions of others is called Yama. One who controls himself and regulates his own actions possesses the quality of samyama. Yama has no control over a person endowed with samyama. There should be discipline and regulation in life in accordance with self-imposed constraints. These self-imposed constraints constitute the thapas of an individual. An unrestrained life is an immoral life. The wind and the sea and also the other phenomena obey the universal laws of nature. The earth rotates round its own axis and revolves around the sun periodically. These uniformities in the universe are the laws ordained by God. They are obeyed by the macrocosm as well as the microcosm. The laws of nature ordained by God are necessary for creating and sustaining the universe and for maintaining its dynamic equilibrium.
Such self-imposed discipline is conducive to real santhi—peace of mind, poise, equanimity, and stable equilibrium of the mind. Peace of mind is the most desirable thing in this world. It gives us physical and psychical euphoria. In order to achieve this santhi, an aspirant must develop a thirst for jnana or spiritual wisdom. He must also acquire the qualities of love, sympathy and compassion, and do selfless service to others. Santhi should not be regarded as a part-time virtue to be cultivated only during dhyana or meditation. It is a constant state of inner tranquillity. It should become habitual and instinctive. Dhyana is also universal and eclectic. It is not restricted by the barriers of space-time. It is not governed by the dogmas of any particular creed. Dhyana is a way of life for the total divinisation of man. Dhyana and santhi are inseparable. Dhyana promotes santhi and santhi intensifies dhyana. The quality of Divinity is not limited to the icon that we worship. Some people experience the most profound peace of mind as long as they are in meditation. But, the moment they come out of the meditative state of mind, they exhibit their demoniac nature. It should not be so. The divine attributes acquired during meditation should be cultivated and nurtured in everyday life.
Mere medication will not cure a sick man. He must also control his diet for quick recovery from illness. There is no single panacea for the great world of sorrow. Each individual has his own specific type of suffering. Nevertheless, meditation on God is an unfailing remedy for human suffering if it is supplemented with the practice of dharma and the strict observance of moral restraints. We are all interdependent. We must learn to share the joys and sorrows of other people. A practitioner of meditation must pray for the welfare of others as sincerely as he prays for his own welfare.
A spiritual aspirant need not live in monastic isolation. He should practise universal compassion, which is nothing but an intense desire for the welfare of the entire humanity. Food plays an important part in the cultivation of universal compassion. Yesterday, I talked to you about the right type of food for spiritual aspirants. Today, I will deal with sathwic food, or the type of food necessary for spiritual progress. Sathwic food enables the sadhaka to apprehend the omnipresent reality of Divinity. He progresses through the four stages of the life divine. These four phases of spiritual advancement are salokya, samipya, sarupya and sayujya. Salokya is entrance to the field of theocentric reality. Samipya is proximity to the fundamental spiritual substance of the universe. Sarupya is the assimilation of the form of the deity. Sayujya is liberation and ultimate union with the Godhead.
Sathwic food is conducive to the progressive attainment of these four states of spirituality viz., salokya, samipya, sarupya, and sayujya. Here, it is necessary to examine the implications of the concept of Sathwic food.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that sathwic food should consist of only milk, yoghurt, sweets and fruits. They believe that they will become sathwic by consuming large quantities of these delicacies. They are absolutely mistaken. Excessive and immoderate consumption of milk and its products awakens and aggravates the rajasic and thamasic qualities in man. A diet extra rich in milk, curds, and ghee cannot be called sathwic, because it leads to the development of the passionate nature of man.
In this context, I have to dilate on the nature of human knowledge and the five gateways of perception. Man is endowed with the five sensory organs connected with the five faculties of sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa, and gandha (sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell). The preservation and the development of these sensory faculties depend on the sathwic food taken through the mouth. The type of sathwic food that we take is determined by the fancies of individual taste. We feel satisfied when we take the right type of food through our mouths. But we forget that we absorb an incorporeal type of food through the other sensory organs also. The wholesome effect of sathwic food will be nullified if we listen to bad talk, indulge in bad talk, look at bad things, come into physical contact with bad things and smell bad things. Mind and body are tainted, contaminated and polluted by evil. Thus, sathwic food alone is not enough for the spiritual regeneration of man. We should not speak about evil. We must avoid condemning others and praising ourselves. Selfadulation and self-glorification retard spiritual development. We must feed our sensory organs with wholesome food, wholesome sounds and wholesome sights. The tongue is meant to sing the glory of God. The ears are meant for feasting on the glorious manifestations of the divine.
Each organ of perception must be provided with its proper spiritual sustenance. Thus, sathwic food does not mean the moderate consumption of milk, curds, ghee, and fruits alone but the enjoyment provided by noble thoughts, sacred sounds, holy sights and spiritual discussions as well. We must develop sathwic sight and spiritual vision. We must have darshan of the beauty of nature and the divinity of icons in temple. We should avoid all distracting sights and sounds. We should not look at anyone with an evil eye. Evil thoughts develop an evil eye. The eyes are the windows of the heart. The heart should overflow with love and compassion. sathwic nature is developed by feeding the eyes with sathwic sights.
The sense of smell is also equally important. The olfactory sense should be satisfied with sweet smells. All obnoxious odours should be avoided. To create an atmosphere of holiness, sweet perfumes are used and fragrant incense sticks are burnt at the altars in temples. Foul smells destroy sanctity. The idea of holiness is always associated with sweet scents and perfumes.
The tactile sensation or the sense of touch should be satisfied by coming into physical contact with the feet of holy men. Contact with evil men must be avoided. Their contacts promote bad thoughts.
Sathsanga or the company of the virtuous is of supreme importance. Sathsanga leads to nonattachment. Non-attachment induces equanimity which, in turn, leads to liberation during life.
With the aid of Sathsanga, many things are achieved. We cultivate good habits and participate in pious activity. Sathsanga sanctifies the human body for becoming a temple of God.
Thus, a comprehensive and balanced Sathwic diet must provide sathwic satisfaction to all the sensory organs of the human body. The sensations of sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa, and gandha must be provided with sathwic satisfaction by means of sathwic discourse, sathwic company, sathwic sights, sathwic food, and sathwic perfumes. A comprehensive sathwic diet provides sathwic gratification to all the sensory organs. Today, the idea of sathwic food has been restricted to food consisting of fruits, milk and its products. We have already seen that the immoderate consumption of such food has a deleterious effect on the human body.
The spiritual technique of dhyana mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita cannot be beneficial in the absence of comprehensive sathwic food, which should feed the entire body with sathwic sights, sounds, smells and tactile sensations. Otherwise, it becomes a mere pose. Today, dhyana has degenerated into a fashionable pastime. The true meaning and significance of dhyana should be clearly grasped in order to avoid the pitfalls and dangers inherent in its faulty practice. Restraints are necessary for the welfare of human beings. Limited food and sathwic food are essential for spiritual progress. Such food should give satisfaction to all the sensory organs.
All rivers join the ocean. Likewise, the aim of all sadhana is the merging of the individual soul with the universal soul. God’s grace is like the unlimited ocean. The water vapour symbolises the sadhana (propitiation); the cloud is sathya (truth), and the raindrops are prema (love). They collect together to form the stream of Ananda (Bliss), which joins the vast ocean of Anugraha (Divine Grace).
Knowledge obtained directly from Sastras and scriptures is like sea water. By exercising the faculty of discrimination and by entering the meditative state of mind, the pure water of wisdom can be distilled from the saline sea water of scriptural knowledge. This knowledge is humanised by experience and divinised by selfless love.
Bookish knowledge divorced from experience leads to fanaticism and intellectual arrogance. Knowledge by acquaintance is always superior to knowledge by description. Practice is better than precept. We must live the scriptural injunctions rather than merely talk about them. Self-imposed discipline is more effective than discipline enforced by some external authority.
The quality and quantity of food that we take determine our thoughts and feelings. There is indeed an intimate connection between “food, head, and God”. Sathwic food is conducive to self-realisation, and liberation from the dualities and relativities of the world.
Rajasic food generates virulent thoughts. By consuming non-vegetarian food we develop brutal mentalities. Those who are practising meditation must abstain from meat. We should also remember constantly that ahimsa or non-violence is the supreme dharma. It is sin to kill innocent animals for the sake of filling our stomachs. We must remember that God dwells in all creatures. “Isa vasyam idam sarvam” (All this is pervaded by God), says the Isa Upanishad. The truth of this aphorism can be experienced through meditation.
“Udaranimittam bahukrita vesham”—for the sake of the stomach, men don different guises. Like the chameleon, they change their colours according to the demands of the situation. They become opportunists and hypocrites. In the end, they try to justify their opportunism and rationalise their hypocrisy. They delude themselves by this policy of expediency and time-serving. Such people can never follow the path of meditation. It should not be supposed that the path of meditation is easy and artificial. If dhyana is easy, why should the great sages of our country have mortified themselves for the attainment of moksha? Some modern techniques of meditation claim to achieve nirvikalpa samadhi instantaneously. Dhyana is mistaken for temporary freedom from worries. If this sort of anaesthesia is needed, one can become tipsy by drinking liquor. Dhyana is not a state of inebriety or amnesia. Dhyana is a state of complete identification with one’s dheya or object of meditation. It is a state of total spiritual empathy. Today, many artificial and distorted methods of meditation are being popularised. Students must beware of them because they are all unprofitable and potentially dangerous.
There are three gunas: sathwa, rajas, and thamas. There are three eyes: the two physical eyes and theinvisible spiritual eye. There are three times: the past, the present and the future. And there are the three worlds. The unity of these triads is vouchsafed to the spiritual aspirant during his transcendental state of meditation. Then sin and sorrow are annihilated. Sath-Chith-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) is experienced through meditation and complete self-surrender. This is the essence of dhyana. Today, a number of rites and rituals are being performed as a part of sadhana. These are only aids to concentration. They are not of much use for true dhyana. Correct posture, the right type of food and the right place are only aids to dharana or concentration. Sathwic food, sathsanga, etc., assist the sadhaka to some extent. They develop the habit of concentration. Our efforts should not end here. Concentration should be followed up by contemplation and meditation.
There should be an element of reciprocity in all human and personal relations. Love, sympathy, compassion and affection are always mutual. They cannot thrive in isolation. They atrophy and vanish wherever selfishness and jealousy manifest themselves. We must discharge our duties in a spirit of self-surrender without consideration for wealth or recognition.
Prema (love) is the greatest sadhana (spiritual activity). Prema is not mere reciprocal love. It is an extended and sublimated form of self-love. It is the extension of love to humanity and to the entire creation. The essence of prema as a sadhana lies in the cultivation of humanitarianism, universal compassion and altruism.
Nobody can become a saint or a sage overnight. We must start early, drive slowly and reach the goal safely. Haste makes waste and waste creates worry. A true sadhaka must develop the qualities of patience and persistence in order to reach the ultimate goal of spiritual enlightenment.
BHAGAWAN SRI SATHYA SAI BABA