More from our series “Wisdom of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik”
It might be asked: Is there any use in carrying on the japa of Soham without faith in its efficacy?
The answer to that is that the repetition of the japa will always be useful, even though done without faith. It will never do you any harm. No doubt all the shastras and saints lay stress on faith, and hence the above statement will appear contrary to their teachings. However, if you go deep into the matter and observe minutely, you will easily be able to reconcile the two statements.
Without having faith–although it may be in the subconscious mind–no one will be induced to practice the japa. As soon as a person begins to repeat the japa, faith is there accompanying the japa like its shadow. If we carefully follow this argument the seeming contradiction will cease to trouble us. A real mumukshu or devotee will never be deceived by the seeming contradiction, and will never allow his mind to be disturbed and turned away from the path.
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee (Isaiah 60:1).
I will give thee a crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
The Lord is on my head like a crown, and I shall not be without him.
They wove for me a crown of truth, and it caused Thy branches to bud in me.
For it is not like a withered crown which buddeth not.
But Thou livest upon my head, and Thou hast blossomed upon me. Thy fruits are full-grown and perfect; they are full of Thy salvation. Alleluia.
(Ode of Solomon 1)
The Lord is on my head like a crown.
“In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people” (Isaiah 28:5).
The halo upon the head, which we find in the depictions of holy ones in all religions, is the Glory of the Presence of God which rests upon all holy things and persons. It is the cloud of light that rested upon Mount Sinai and upon the tabernacle when God spoke with Moses, and out of which God spoke on the Mount of Transfiguration. It is the Lord himself, for Saint John tells us: “God is Light” (I John 1:5). Jesus simply called It “the Light of Life” (John 8:12).
It is often shown surrounding the entire body of a saint or angel, but usually it is only around the head. This is because
Today we will begin occasional postings from Atmaprabha (see the bottom of this article), containing the wisdom of the modern saint of Nashik, India, Sri Gajanana Maharaj.
Importance of spiritual visions and experiences
A few days ago, a gentleman from Poona came to see me. While talking on various topics, he incidentally said:
“Maharaj, some years ago a Santa Parishada (a meeting of saints) was held at Poona. Many maharajas, some having matted hair, some who had practiced tapasya and austerities, some sannyasins, some heads of maths, etc., had all assembled together at that meeting. From the name given to that meeting, ‘Santa Parishada,’ it was very natural to think that all these men were saints. Ordinary people think that saints are persons who, having realized the Self, are always immersed in the bliss of the Paramatman, and all of whom are directed towards leading other human beings to the path of everlasting happiness. A doubt, however, arose in my mind whether all these men were saints as understood in this sense. In addition, we hear about various other saints. There are also different maths, temples, and different gods and goddesses. I am at a loss to know whether any of these things are true–or none are. My mind is absolutely confused. Hence, I request you to tell me in what I should believe, and how I should set my mind at rest?”
To this, I answered as follows: “You have asked a very good question. This question often troubles many thoughtful people, especially when they find ‘saints’ sprouting up like mushrooms on all sides.
“Paramartha (spirituality) is a subject regarding which various misconceptions hold full sway in our present-day society. Sri Ramdas has said: ‘There is a bazaar of shastras, various gods and deities are crowding in it, and people are performing various religious ceremonies for securing the fulfillment of their desires. Various tenets and opinions clash with each other. Everybody thinks his own view to be correct, and anybody else’s wrong. There is no agreement anywhere, and all are contradicting each other.’ Under these circumstances, how to find out the truth is a very difficult question. Sri Tukaram says: ‘There are so many gods. Where should I place my faith?’
No one is to perpetually grovel at the feet of a supposed guru–something a true guru would never allow. But if we find a real master teacher we should happily sit at his feet and learn–not adoring vacuously.
Here is an example from the life of Jesus that applies exactly to the situation:
“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).
Think of all the busybodying “discples” you know, who are running here and there “serving the guru,” or at least the guru’s organization–which in time will be identified with the guru so that whoever questions or leaves it will be declared guilty of doubting or rejecting the guru. They are selling books and magazines they have never “had time” to read, arranging seminars and world tours, setting up interviews with the rich, the powerful, and the media, immersed in busywork (oops! karma yoga) to avoid facing this utter emptiness–and often with the intention to become a big cog in the guru’s machine and maybe in time be the guru’s successor. Whether the guru is a fake or not is irrelevant. They are so frantically cramming activity into their lives they could not benefit from the greatest of teachers.
On the other hand there are those that sit their bodies and minds down and listen and learn and apply. Wherever their body may be, by always following what they have learned, they never leave the feet of the guru.
We must be the same in relation to both living and departed teachers whose wisdom we have studied, and in relation to our own soul-intuition, for the ultimate guru is our Self.
Our mind must not waver like agitated water, but must be steady and calm. Only then can we truly hear and apply the teachings of the wise, and thereby ourselves become wise. “Therefore be a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:46).
Excusing a false spiritual teacher
Excusing a guru’s materialism on the ground that “for him these are just toys” or “he is showing us an example in how to deal with them/it” is nonsense. Get straight and get honest. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it is a duck–not a guru or an avatar whose advent has ushered in the Satya Yuga.
To someone who asked if Soham means “I am he” or “I am that.” “So” is not a personal pronoun. It only means the impersonal “That.” It is a simple matter of linguistics. “I am He” is an absurd mistranslation because neither Brahman nor the … Continue reading
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In reply to a sadhaka living in an area where there were no others of her practice or philosophy. She asked which meditation groups I would recommend to a person looking for some spiritual association. The problem with meditation groups is that they are often … Continue reading
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