For the Highest Good! Amen.
Someone once told me that Swami Sivananda writes as if every single word is the most important word in the entire world, or that any teaching he is offering in the moment is the greatest of all teachings anywhere…something like that. The point is, when he speaks/writes, he does not mince words. He does not dabble. He goes big!
The other day, reading one of his books, there was a line that started with something like ‘You must have a strong determination:’ and then second part of it I remember for sure: “I will realize or die.”
Realize or die!
That human life is a precious gift, and we can know God in this very lifetime. We can realize the Divine Light that dwells within us, that dwells within all. We can know the Source of Life & Existence via direct experience – i.e. realization – thus it is wise to strive to do so!
There is even something in Christianity, I believe it is called the Natural Law perhaps – but it states that man has within his capacity to know God and therefore he has a moral obligation to aspire accordingly.
If we possess the capacity to know God, but instead squander this life on pursuing passing pleasures and material gain, what good are we?
We are blessed in that sometimes, just by virtue of taking optimal care of our body and minds to the best of our ability, we will nonetheless get to experience pleasure and perhaps acquiring material things also makes sense. It makes sense to provide ourselves with healthy food, a nice home, clean clothing, an informed library and learning materials, etc., so that we can take good care of our human.
It is hard to pursue knowing God when we are starving and homeless and broke. At the same time, it is difficult to know God if our stomachs are so full that we cannot move and all we ever think about is money and sex. There is a balance to life. Moderation!
Ultimately, as the Bible mentions storing up treasures in Heaven rather on the earth, the treasures in Heaven (i.e. treasures of education, treasures of spiritual awareness, treasures of positive attitude, positive intentions etc.) are far more valuable than treasures one earth. Even practically speaking, there is a saying that a good man to lose his fortune in a day and quickly earn it back again – because that good man has stored up his treasures in Heaven! If we have intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and virtue, we can certainly do and have whatever we’d like. Whereas, if we’re consumed with greed, lust, anger, and all kinds of selfishness, well simply put life will not be that enjoyable, no matter how much money we have or any of that stuff of the world.
Interestingly, in Hindu tradition there is a term Brahmacarya, which can be translated to mean many things, but most often and most bluntly it is translated as continence or even celibacy. Master Sivananda has written quite some many inspiring words on the subject. Just reading his words the other day, I feel so inspired to practice. The basic idea is that when a person releases their sexual energy (i.e. orgasm) the person loses a lot of vital energy. And, if this energy is lost regular, all kinds of negative lifestyle conditions such as laziness, tiredness, and even loss of wealth, fame, memory, etc. On the other hand, when the sexual energy is retained (not repressed), one gains energy, clarity, increased mental faculties, strength, etc. It is really quite amazing.
After studying Brahmacarya more, what I realized/remembered is that much of Hindu/Yoga philosophy is like a very advanced science, more advanced than western science has arrived at thus far. That is to say, some day I think certainly enough tests could be done in laboratories and on people could be done to prove all the claims of Hindu/Yoga philosophy, but there is no need to wait for everything to be proven in a laboratory before realizing the benefits of the practices ourselves. Truly, we can be our own scientists and test by direct experience! That is the great gift. We need not wait. We can explore and try things out and see what works and what doesn’t.
On the quest for realization and to know God, certainly Brahmacarya/continence/celibacy/moderation in all things is a common recommendation, and some say the most essential aspect. Really, the opposite of Brahmacarya is essentially excessive indulgence / gluttony which only leads to suffering and is the result of projecting happiness on things outside of ourselves, which is also the opposite of acknowledging that the Kingdom of God and the Presence of Divinity is Within! If Divinity is within, how or why would we possibly project happiness outside ourselves? Hence, Brahmacarya is really affirming that Divinity is Within, and also that there are much greater pursuits in life than sexual conquest, or eating more hot dogs than anyone else, or abusing drugs, etc. Store up the treasures in Heaven!
Even with women, recently I’ve been going back and forth between feeling sexual feelings toward women vs. embracing them as the Divine Mother. From direct experience, I can tell you it is a far more peaceful, loving, joyful, relaxed feeling to be aware of the Divine Mother rather than some object for sexual conquest. It is really, I’d say, a better life to see women as the Divine Mother rather than as potential life partners, etc. Even if one does at some point have a life partner, even Gandhi says that he realized his partner doesn’t need to be the object of his lust for when his carnal desires arise. So…all things in moderation.
It comes down to happy and joyful and peaceful we really want to be, and how honest we are willing to be with ourselves. If we take time to relax, sit back, and assess the quality of our life and our motivations, we’ll see that the more we selfishly pursue things just for ourselves – like money, women, tasty food – without considering others – then the more we suffer. On the other hand, when we dedicate everything we do to the welfare of all life in all of its expressions, and when we live only to serve, and when act generously and give abundantly, life becomes better and better. It is our choice!
As Dr. Hawkins says, Love and Peace is the ultimate law of the universe. The more we live in harmony with that law, the better our life becomes. The more we surrender to that law, the more we realize that we are not even the human body, but really we are the witness, and we can witness creation functioning by the law of Love and Peace and see the glory of it. The same energy moves through us all, and when any act against Love and Peace, there is a balancing.
Surrendering to Love and Peace, one can then sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. One need not worry about subjective pleasure and gain. Everything is taken care of. Aligning one’s life with Love and Peace, what else could possibly matter? Does it matter how long one lives?
All we have is today. This is it! “This is the day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad!” What are we waiting for?
As the Yoga Sutras say – future suffering can be avoided! Meaning, we have the freedom and the power and the choice to live virtuously from here on forward forever, for eternity. Living virtuously, there is no suffering. There might be the experience of pain, but no suffering. Suffering comes from us not living in accordance with our highest ideals, from lacking faith in the Supreme, and from immoral living. Living virtuously, morally, knowing we are doing our best, even then when we fail – there is no suffering. Even in failure, with faith in the goodness of virtue and moral living – there is no loss – only opportunity for learning and growth!
Context! Divine Context! Divine Play!
Realize or Die! Or, we could say, realize that Love and Peace is the ultimate law of the universe and live in harmony with it, or suffer. Virtuous living is the way to go! Virtue is unseen…Love and Peace are unseen…cultivate some faith in the unseen…Realize the power in the unseen…and then one discovers that one also is unseen…and then, being unseen, you cannot die, for you were never born…that’s what!
Glory to God in the Highest!