Let us have a short meditation so that the truth which I have the privilege to offer to you may be understood and your mind may be soaked in it.
Meditation means knowing how to relax the mind, rid it of all its activities and focus it on the spiritual principle within it.
One hint. There is an intimate connection between our thought life and our breathing. By restraining our breath we can control our thought, and when our thought is controlled our breathing is regular and rhythmic and not at all agitated. If we add to these two practices the holy name OM, a new light is produced in the mind which is called spiritual light and then the mind can function easily and be happy under any adversity and peaceful in face of any provocation.
I will now read a holy text. Please breathe a few times— taking the word OM—rhythmically and silently.
Then focus your mind on the text, and I ask you to meditate on it for awhile before I serve you further with a short discourse.
HE WHO IS THE SPLENDOUR OF THE SUN
SHINES IN MY MIND AS MY SELF.
HE IS INFINITE. HE IS MY ‘I’.
HE IS TRUTH. HE IS ALL.
There are two elements in the life of man. I will not use the Sanskrit terms, but in common parlance they are called ‘light’ and ‘darkness’. In the outer world the source of all light is the sun; whether it is found in the moon, in a lamp, in oil, or in anything else. The sun is the source of all outer light. The second light of man is intellectual light. Intellectual light means the property which enables us to distinguish between right and wrong; what is justice and what is not justice, what is our real duty and what is the duty which others have enforced upon us.
Duty is a very important word. Confucius went to a certain country and he asked the people there what was their idea of justice. They replied, ‘Our justice is very great, O bearded sage! If a father does anything wrong, the son betrays him.’ Then they asked Confucius, ‘What is your idea of justice?’ He said, ‘My idea of justice is that the son ought to protect the father and the father ought to protect the son. The people ought to protect the country and the country ought to protect the people.’ This is intellectual light. There is another light, which is called spiritual light. Many people will deny that it exists, but if you please pay a little attention to what I present to you, you will know that there is such a thing as spiritual light.
Spiritual light expresses itself in humility, love of truth and the desire to be in touch with the all-pervasive element and to sacrifice our egoism in favour of altruism. The main point in the teaching of the holy Gita Shastra is that our egoity is meant to be sacrificed in the service of man, in the service of God, in the service of truth. Just as when you burn sandalwood, though the sandalwood is burnt it emits fragrance which fills the whole room; so if our egoity—our sense of individuality, of petty possession, of being self-important—is burnt in love of truth and devotion, in the inner silence, then we get the spiritual light.
What is Spirit? The senses appreciate the outer world, the mind appreciates the senses and Spirit appreciates the mind. Spirit is that element in man which knows: ‘Now my mind is active, now my mind is silent. Oh, I must learn how to make my mind silent!’
Spiritual light is the universal light. As the sun is the source of the outer light and dharma (righteousness and harmony) is the source of intellectual light, so the Spirit—which is one and universal, truth and consciousness absolute—is the source of inner light.
We live in order to promote light. You will say ‘Why has darkness been created?’ To strengthen our moral and spiritual muscles. If you want to be strong, you take physical exercise every day; you fight against inertia.
What is education? A struggle against darkness; limitation, narrowness of mind and that greatest curse of today, nationalism.
Yoga means to promote light. It is true that the outer light has now been very well promoted by science, because when the atom bomb explodes there flashes a ray of light which is a hundred times brighter than the sun. But to what purpose and with what consequences you know very well! Why? Because such use is devoid of the light of righteousness and the light of the Spirit.
Let us create moral and spiritual light in us. Moral light is cultivated by subjecting the mind to discipline. You create the moral light in you in order to conquer anger, avarice, desire and passion. Spiritual light, which is peace, blessedness and harmony and is the light of God, is obtained by creating inner silence through devotion to the One-without-a-second. And when you have that devotion it expresses itself as universal love and kindness. Then, my friends, there will be no friction between you and your dear wife, or your country, or any of the other nations of the world.
Life is like a blank book. Some pages are already written, but a good bit of it is not. What is already written is our karma, those actions of the past with which we have come into this world. Life is not only individual but stretches back to infinity, and the impressions of all past actions are treasured in a very minute form on the causal body, which is wrongly called unconscious or subconscious by the psychologists. This is the writing in our book of life with which we come. But there are many blank pages, and many blank lines in every page of our daily life. It is for us to write on them, and what we write each day constitutes and conditions our bliss, our freedom.
What a pity that they consider political freedom as the only freedom. It is the least of freedoms! Plato says in the early part of the Republic that if you have the sword of a man who is drunk and he comes to you and says, “Give me my sword!” will you give it to him? No, because you know very well that if you give a sword to a drunken man he may harm himself and anybody else.
Therefore we have to write daily. And what have we to write? Truth. The more we love truth in any form, the nearer we are to God. The habit of saying things to please others as a mark of civilized behaviour is not truthful at all and is attended by many miseries. Write benevolence, write tolerance, write self-conquest and write devotion to God in the book of your life every day. If you write new lines in a more vivid ink and with greater sweetness of spirit, then you cancel a good bit of what is already written. A good deal of what is already written is avidya (ignorance), or darkness; and light dispels darkness. It is said in the Gita: ‘O Arjuna, even a little light of truth dispels a good deal of darkness’.
Swami Rama Tirthaji wrote in a journal which he published these lines: The world rolls in glory: it is noontide everywhere!’ But we do not know that the world rolls in glory. We think that it alternates in light and darkness. Take the case of a cocoon. Spring is about to come, vernal breezes are wafting over the buds, the green grass has sprouted forth, rainbows are decorating the sky and birds are responding to the decoration with their melodious notes. But what is all this to the cocoon? All darkness! As our great poet Bhartrihari says, If the owl does not see in the daytime, is the sun to blame for it?’ Therefore the cocoon must burst out into a butterfly. Then it flits from blossom to blossom and swims in the serene rays of the sun, it follows its mate in the sky, it produces germs for the future progeny of its own species. That is the real life, my friends, the life of light.
It is a very wrong conception that wealth is a sure passport to happiness. King Croesus was very angry when Herodotus said to him, ‘Call no man happy unless you have seen his end’ and had Herodotus thrown into prison. But later the kingdom was conquered by the Persian king who ordered Croesus to be executed. Then Croesus remembered the saying of Herodotus and said, ‘Oh, how true were the words of the sage’.
What is the real passport to happiness? Knowledge, learning. Not for its own sake, but in order to understand the spiritual light better. If we make it our summun bonum that at all costs we have to create the light of truth and peace in us and this is the purpose for which we live, then we become ornaments of society, ornaments of ourselves and real benefactors of humanity.