There was a king who caught and held prisoner a parrot. It was a sweet speaking parrot but it had only one theme, the beauty and perfection of its former mistress, Princess Padmani. Day after day the king listened to the paean of praise from the parrot. Slowly his imagination was fired. He became obsessed with the desire to possess her. The whole situation sprang from the transformation of the heart of the king as a result of listening to the reiterated lament of the parrot.
The seeker after liberation also hears a description of spiritual beauty and the point at which he ceases to admire with his mind and begins to wish in his heart, is the turning point in his inner career.
Constant remembrance effects this transformation in the heart of the devotee and awakens his longing to possess spiritual truth.
It is an easy method of expansion, it is open to all and is repeatedly recommended in the Bhagavad Gita.
“To Me they are the best of Yogins who, endowed with right faith, their minds ever fixed on Me, worship without intermission.”
This verse is particularly helpful in that it indicates the lines the practice should follow. Worship must accompany our remembrance, for from it we derive energy and power. The practice should be performed in right faith, that is our faith in it should be strong and carefully thought on. As far as possible the recollection should be constant and as given here, should be dedicated to the personal God or an Incarnation.
The question may be asked: “How is this practice possible in daily life and what effect will it have on our worldly activities ? Is it compatible with a busy concentrated life ?”
The answer seems to be that it is quite possible and indeed helpful but that in such a life the constant recollection should not take the form necessarily of an all-the-time remembrance but of an all-time reliance on God.
The Gita says: “Perform thy duties in a spirit of detachment and devotion to God, being unaffected by success or failure. Yoga is inner equilibrium.”
Constant recollection in this form will help and not hinder our daily activities. Mostly we act less competently than we might otherwise do because we are beset with fears—fear lest we fail in our undertakings, anxiety for success, and desire to shine in all our doings. Inner reliance on God, handing over the results of our actions to Him so to say, will make us more and not less competent in our worldly activities. Combine this attitude with active remembrance when and where possible and our whole standard of living will be transformed and our horizons widened.
Why so ? Because our actions, our thoughts, our speech are the outcome of our level of consciousness and if that expands, so do our worldly and spiritual potentialities. Truth and an ever widening understanding of what the word implies becomes the central point, the focus round which our life revolves. Swami Rama Tirtha, a great modem Yogi, slipped climbing some steps. Turning to his companion he said he had nearly fallen because for one moment he had forgotten God.
St Theresa on one of her travels across Spain is said to have fallen off her donkey. “Why do you do this to me O Lord” was her response.
It is not of great importance what name of God we choose, but having chosen it is important to keep to that name. The story goes that a Muslim and a Hindu stood together on the bank of a fast flowing river. The Muslim calling repeatedly on Allah alone, safely crossed the river. The Hindu, hoping to make doubly sure of doing so, varied his allegiance and called first on Krishna then on Rama and finally on Shiva. Each God alone would undoubtedly have come to the rescue of his own devotee. Hearing each other called on, each left it to the other.
The Hindu was drowned! Single-minded devotion has a power, that power is weakened if diffused. Choose then any name, Christ, Krishna or an abstract name of God such as the mystic syllable OM and keep to that name alone. It is of vital importance to make the remembrance of that name a refuge for our thought and a focus for the use of our minds. Having then chosen our name let us decide how often to remember it in any given day. Whatever is decided on, should stretch us, but not too far; it should be possible.,
Each of us will make our own programme. But perhaps a few suggestions may be useful. One could repeat the Holy Name early in the morning the selected number of times, continue it to and from work, return to it when possible during the day, when it may and should become a refuge for the mind in difficult moments. Perhaps at the week-ends a more concentrated effort can be made.
Only one thing is necessary: complete faith in the Holy Name and in its power to transform our mind. Christ said: “Come unto Me you who are weary and I will give you rest.”
Krishna tells us: “Go to the Lord for shelter with thy whole personality and thou shalt obtain the all-transcendent peace by His grace,”
“Those who meditate on Me as one with themselves and worship Me through spiritual knowledge in every circumstance, to those ever devoted ones I give what they need and protect what they have.”
What a promise is contained in the verses.
At times the mind will feel enthusiasm, at times it will become bored with this practice of remembrance of a name of God. It will turn to the happenings of the day even whilst in the process of repetition. The failure is due to reliance on our will and to lack of love and longing for that to which we are trying to give our attention. One teacher, talking of attempts to control the mind, quoted this verse:
“I drew towards me a bow of May That I might see and smell,
It bore it in a sort of way,
It bore it very well.
But when I let it backward sway O it were hard to tell
With what a toss, with what a swing, the lovely thing
Resumed its proper level and sent me to the devil”.
He said that the poet had unknowingly described a process not unlike our efforts with our minds, and he commented: “The mind always goes where it expects to find joy and unless it is trained to long for the direct sight of divine Truth, mind control is only by force.”
Mind control by force of will is not enough, for it itself is dependent for its continuance on love of and desire for knowledge. Those of us who are at these crossroads, and who feel that spiritual knowledge is eluding us and that our practice is dry and unfruitful, may find comfort in this story from the Masnavi.
It would seem to indicate that in making the effort at remembrance we are, by the very practice, making an approach to God and that in allowing us this privilege of the practice He is also approaching us.
A certain man was crying ‘Allah’.
His lips were growing sweet in praise of Him.
The devil said: “O garrulous one, where is the response ‘Here am I’ to this ‘Allah’ ?
Not a single response is coming from the throne.
How long will you continue to cry ‘Allah’?”
The man was broken-hearted and he ceased his practice and fell asleep.
In his sleep he heard this voice: “Hark, you have held back from praising Allah.
How is it that you repent of calling to Him?”
He replied “No ‘Here am I’ is coming in response.”
The Teacher said: “God saith: ‘That “Allah” of thine is my “Here am I.”
The Gita makes almost exactly the same point. “The same am I to all beings, there is none hateful to Me or dear; but whoso worship Me with devotion, I am in them and they are in Me.”
Dr. Hari Prasad Shastri has said:
“The culmination of devotion is that the Lord makes the soul of man his own. If the King of Kings makes anybody his own, what is there further to be done?”