Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
What is spiritual vision in the end? To love and live in this world, FINDING IT GOD, the most beautiful. In this beauty, ugliness will dance, cruelty will sing, compassion and grace will play their notes too. But indifference must reign. In that the mind is sublimated and refined. The serene content is brought forth well. It is a culture.
[ With the arrival of S, V, P & D, the Ashram atmosphere has undergone a perceptible change. Primarily because all of them have come here for a long stay and are in a way disposed to wholesome sādhanā and service. Except S all are in their twenties. Swamiji and Ma are spending a lot of time and effort to ensure that the seekers learn to make all their activities a sādhanā. There is more emphasis on studies, perfection in service, attention and integrity in living together, and above all, on preserving the austere sublimity of the atmosphere under all circumstances. Naturally, the same note is very much felt in Swamiji’s early morning addresses also. ]
I was mentioning something about ācāra and vicāra. Ācāra is what goes by traditional practice or culture. In vicāra, the level of practice is raised from the physical and the oral to the mental and the intelligential. For any one, everything finally ends up in the internal level. Any kind of scientific investigation and discovery primarily takes place in the intelligence of man. In the society, the most useful and honoured people are those with intelligence and wisdom.
Truly speaking, spiritual or devotional life is a life lived in the heart, mind and intelligence. When I say intelligential, I mean something absolutely different from intellectual, as the word is usually understood. In the intelligential pursuit, the effort and emphasis are to generate sublimity and purity. A pursuit with the intelligence, which does not give rise to a simultaneous or consequent feeling of sublimity and freedom, purity and expansion, is merely an intellectual exercise.
The spiritualist wants to be joyous and peaceful, but he wants to be independent of the external factors – objects, people or circumstances. His peace and joy emerge from the eternal Source within. Fostering the link with the inward Source, is what brings sublimity. A spiritual seeker tries to nurture this link through everything he does. In fact, this sublimity is the goal of all forms of religious and spiritual pursuits.
We have a common word bhakti. What exactly does it mean? Is it only a faith or concept? What actually is the expression of bhakti in one? If you enquire like this, you will find that bhakti is an emotion or attitude that should generate greater and greater notes of sublimity in the individual. If the so-called practice of bhakti fails to generate sublimity, then that is no bhakti at all.
Bhakti or sublimity is something one has to generate himself. Maybe some are given to it by birth while others have to cultivate it. Our śāstras say that all the different rasas (emotions or feelings or sentiments) are object-dependent. But for bhakti, especially for parābhakti, no object association is necessary. Bhakti, one has to generate from within himself.
Every morning you are doing a pushpa-samarpanam for your Swamiji. What is it meant for? Is it necessary for your Swamiji? Of course, Ma and Naya Swamiji know very well that this programme is meant for generating a mood and note of sublimity in the Ashram and the Ashramites at the beginning of the day. Someone collects the flowers. In doing so, you should generate within yourself as much sublimity or bhakti as possible. Being attentive to the beauty and purity of the flowers, and through that to their Creator, will certainly elicit a sublime note of bhakti in you. In plucking the flowers, you have to be selective as well as sensitive, which again will add to the sublimity generated in your mind.
The plucked flowers are then cleaned and petals separated. This job too needs great attention and delicate handling. The separated petals kept on the plate must radiate beauty and purity. They must not look dirty, lifeless or wilted by mishandling. Today, Ma showed us how beautifully the petals were arranged in the vessel. When I looked at it, it generated a mood of sublimity.
All these are possible only when somebody wants to be sublime. The practice can be physical (like washing the vessels and plucking flowers) oral (chanting or singing) and mental (thinking and reflecting) – any one of these or all together. Do you think that this flower-offering programme would have generated so much of sublimity without the accompanying chorus chanting?
In offering the petals also, as much elegant, gentle and devotional as one can be, so much will be the sublimity felt. Receive the flowers softly, proceed gently, prostrate humbly and elegantly – not in a sudden and rough manner. When somebody does it with refinement and devotion, the onlookers also will have a touch of sublimity.
Last year, a couple had come here for a few days. The husband was meeting us for the first time. During the pushpa-samarpanam he would stand somewhat away from the line. It took two or three days for him to get rid of the shyness or reluctance. People do not know what it is to take to a sublime practice. You are the person to gain by your prostration, by your humility. The person or idol before whom you prostrate, is surely not to get the benefit of your prostration!
That day will be the best day when you will be able to look at the most affluent earth and feel the touch of divinity in its various objects and life forms, feel the supreme Presence that makes the earth revolve, the seasons arrive in turn, the plants and trees blossom. How beautiful all this is, provided you can look at it with a comprehensive vision. I think this sublimity – generation of it, experiencing it, being enriched by it again and again – is the one purpose of bhakti as well as spiritual life.
Spirituality aims at touching the deepest level of human personality and manifesting this sublimity. Devotional practices too aim at generating the same sublimity. People generally come to an Ashram to have a touch of this sublimity, because they miss it in their home.
Once you are able to feel and generate the note of sublimity, questions automatically stop, enquiries dissolve, and you understand the secret of fulfillment of human life. Feel sublime. Allow yourself to be enriched by sublimity.
Hariḥ Om Tat Sat.
06th June 1997
– From the Book Prabhata Rashmih Volume 1
“Fostering the link with the inward Source, is what brings sublimity. A spiritual seeker tries to nurture this link through everything he does.”
“That day will be the best day when you will be able to look at the most affluent earth and feel the touch of divinity in its various objects and life forms, feel the supreme Presence that makes the earth revolve, the seasons arrive in turn, the plants and trees blossom.”
“Once you are able to feel and generate the note of sublimity, questions automatically stop, enquiries dissolve, and you understand the secret of fulfillment of human life.”