Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
You may wonder how this śraddhā or subtle refinements are going to help you in God-realization. In the pursuit of God-realization, your focus should always be on your mind. It is your mind that has to be purified.
[ The dawn of Gurupoornima saw a few young devotees carrying hot water for others. In fact, the number of permanent residents of the Ashram being very few, many of the visiting devotees have to play host in many ways. This gives them a rare scope for service, which when rendered with the right attitude, can help the seekers a great deal in purifying and expanding their mind and heart. It also gives the participants an opportunity to learn how Swamiji would like the devotees to do any work – be it serving food lovingly and well, or cleaning flowers carefully with devotion, or setting the microphone and the recording system with sensitivity and attention.]
A large part of the discussions in the Satsangs these days were on perfection in all actions — big or small — and on behavioural refinement and sensitivity. In short, Swamiji wanted the seekers to convert all activities throughout the day into sādhanā and to “carry the Ashram to their home, instead of bringing their ‘home’ to the Ashram”.]
श्रद्धावान्-लभते ज्ञानं तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः
śraddhāvān-labhate jñānaṃ tatparaḥ saṃyatendriyaḥ
Hariḥ Om Tat Sat. Bhagavadgītā says: it is the man of śraddhā who gets jñāna. Tatparaḥ – he must be given to the pursuit of this wisdom considering it to be the supreme. Saṃyatendriyaḥ – he must always have the senses under control. A life of indulgence is antagonistic to the spiritual path. Life has to be regimented, constantly and attentively focussed on the jñāna, regarding jñāna to be the supreme – more important than anything else in life.
If whatever you do does not involve you, does not give you joy, it means that you do not have śraddhā. Well, it is possible that your faculties get tired and they need rest. When I was using a manual typewriter, after writing many pages – I generally write directly with the typewriter – I would sometimes start making mistakes. The faculties would not coordinate properly any more. Then I would say, “The system is tired. I shall stop today.” When there is fatigue, tamoguṇa takes over, forcing us to take rest or sleep. Except those times, you must be able to apply your faculties with attention and sensitivity to whatever you are doing, and find it joyful too.
This pushpa-samarpaṇa is an exercise which can measure your śraddhā and also help you to develop it. The manner in which you receive the petals from Ma, the way you walk and offer the flowers, the beauty, elegance or refinement with which you do it, speak about your śraddhā. In all these, there is an expression. It is not an expression of the body. The mind, consisting of emotions, attitudes, feelings, etc. constitutes the śraddhā coordinate in you.
While offering, a petal falls outside the cloth. The offerer picks it up and offers it! A cloth is kept here as a sacred place where the flowers are to be offered. The rest of the place is trampled upon. When a petal falls outside this perimeter, why collect it and put it on the cloth? See, it gives you a scope for developing śraddhā.
One devotee moved the flowers like this (Swamiji demonstrates), pushing the heap of flowers with the back of the hand, instead of using the palm in a gentle manner. That is not the way. You see, it expresses lack of love and attention !
I used to observe S gently walking backward after the prostration. He would prostrate before Naya Swamiji from the opposite side, turn eastward to prostrate before Ma and then again walk backward. His idea was that after prostrating before anybody you should not show your back or feet in that direction. This is a refined devotional discipline. Now I find that the working girls here have also started doing it without anybody telling them. My dear seekers, if you observe people, there is a lot to learn.
I wonder whether you utilize the opportunity enough to generate śraddhā. Are you coming prepared to participate in the recitations heartily and fondly? If you really do so, you will find how much of sublimity it can generate in your being! It is a splendid opportunity. All of you should examine yourselves whether you are using the occasion properly. Every devotional exercise is pursued with a view to generate this sublimity, purity. If you fail in generating this, you fail in everything. People complain that they don’t advance in meditation. What is the reason? It is the poverty of their mind and heart. They don’t understand that meditation is a very fond pursuit. They don’t take to meditation with enough fondness.
Many devotees want to serve food. It is good. I would like all of you to be fit to serve food. You know how tenderly, lovingly and sensitively food should be served! Very rarely you get an opportunity to serve food to so many devotees, and this one item of work is sufficient for your growth provided you take to it with śraddhā. More of sādhanā can be had in it than in meditation or absorption. So, before serving, humbly enquire whether there are any special disciplines you have to abide by.
When you are serving food, serve like an angel. If you serve with a cheerful, radiant face, everybody will be happy. The look is not of your body, but of your heart, of your love, fondness and feeling.
In the kitchen, we try to exercise maximum care. We purchase two sets of new clothes for the cooks and ensure that they maintain cleanliness. While cooking, while taking articles, passing them over or keeping them, serving and refilling the vessels – everywhere, my dear souls, a lot of śraddhā is necessary. Generally I do not go there during food time because serving is not done to my satisfaction.
Serve lovingly, the right quantity with a right-sized spoon. Serve without delay and without haste, each item at the right time, in the proper order. Fill the vessels to the extent necessary so that not much is left in the vessels after each batch is over. Refill each item before serving a new batch. Take care that the rim of the vessel does not become dirty while serving. Nowadays, very good vessels are available. A stainless steel vessel should be handled in a stainless manner.
Don’t forget to wash your hands before entering the kitchen or the serving area. Tie your hair or saree or uttarīyam well. While serving any item, the spoon should never touch the leaf or plate. And – do I need to say? – never put your finger in the mouth while serving food.
If you take to the disciplines fondly, you will find how this work becomes a great sādhanā for you. There is another side of the sādhanā. People have assembled here from different parts of the country and outside. Never allow your mind to get irritated or agitated over the habits of people. Learn to make a provision in your mind for everybody’s habit. Where correction or improvements are possible, try to suggest sweetly and humbly, or wait for an opportunity to suggest without hurting anybody’s feelings. Look into your own mind to detect subtle notes of pettiness, greed, competition, temptation to excel others or to do things abruptly. Wherever some work is to be done, make sure whether you are fit for it. Even if you feel that you are ready, find out whether your joining the team will really help or hinder. Otherwise wait and observe.
You may wonder how this śraddhā or subtle refinements are going to help you in God-realization. I have been trying hard to drive home one point. In the pursuit of God-realization, your focus should always be on your mind. It is your mind that has to be purified. With God you don’t have to do anything. He is already present everywhere. And you cannot improve Him or strengthen Him, bring Him nearer or drive Him away. So, all the disciplines and exercises are meant only for your mind – to make your mind free of desires, free of ego, free of likes and dislikes which are the real obstructions keeping your vision sullied.
When I am repeatedly stressing this point, why is it not striking your mind deeply?
शान्ति छूट गयी है । उसका कारण क्या है ? भगवान या अपना मन ? मन ही है कारण । उसमें अहंकार है, आशा है । अभिमान नहीं छूटा है । कुछ न कुछ दोष वहाँ गहराई से बैठा है । यही है कारण ।
Peace is lost. What is the reason? God or your mind? Mind is the reason. There is ego, desire. Pride has not gone. Some or the other defect is deeply embedded there. That is the reason.
śraddhā is to be cultivated with a view to discover one’s own disharmonies, distractions, slips and inattentions, and to remove them outright. So, every day, every moment from now on, I want you to do whatever is to be done, joyfully and lovingly. Do whatever is necessary, and do it very well.
श्रद्धावान्-लभते ज्ञानं …
śraddhāvān labhate jñānam…
Hariḥ Om Tat Sat
10th July 1998
From the Book Prabhata Rashmih Volume 1
“Look into your own mind to detect subtle notes of pettiness, greed, competition, temptation to excel others or to do things abruptly.”
“People complain that they don’t advance in meditation. What is the reason? It is the poverty of their mind and heart. They don’t understand that meditation is a very fond pursuit.”
“All the disciplines and exercises are meant only for your mind – to make your mind free of desires, free of ego, free of likes and dislikes which are the real obstructions keeping your vision sullied.”
“In the pursuit of God-realization, your focus should always be on your mind.”