The Necessity Of
Immortal Atman! Beloved and blessed children of the Divine! Scriptures and saints and those who
have had their fingers burnt by running after the objects of the world continuously warn us to be
cautious in our dealings with the sense-objects of this world. For these sense-objects are
deceptive, they are endowed with a false glitter and an indescribable power of deluding the mind,
attracting it, enmeshing it and then enslaving it. Lord Krishna warns in the Gita that they are
sources of pain, not sources of happiness as we foolishly think when we run after them like a
wild-goose-chase. Then, another verse tells us, "vishayan
vishavat tyaja" (Shun sense-objects like poison).
So we try to be careful, and if sense-objects attract us, we say
"No". We will use our will-power, we will use our discrimination. We will try to look into the
defects of these sense-objects and tell our mind, "O mind, do not be deluded, do not be foolish;
you will regret it afterwards." So we want to resist temptations, we want strength. We pray: "Lead
us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." We have been taught to beware of things
surrounding us in this maya-bazaar; this world of maya.
It is possible to be in a state where these temptations and dangers
do not exist. To the one who has no desire for sense-objects, they do not constitute a temptation.
He or she may be surrounded by hundreds of sense-objects, but, nevertheless, one is not even aware
of their existence; they mean nothing. For example, those in whose life the drinking of liquor has
never been a factor are never tempted to drink liquor and get intoxicated. They do not run the
danger of cirrhosis of the liver and all the other evils that the drinking of liquor can bring. To
them liquor and water mean the same thing.
But then not only do you have to be cautious about things outside,
but you also have to be aware and cautious about things right within you. For they can cause either
happiness or misery, progress or downfall, spirituality or the opposite of it. They are
called adhyatmika tapa (pain coming from within). They can torment you. They can make you suffer.
Coming from within yourself, emanating from your own nature, uncontrolled, innumerable, countless
desires torment the individual.
Desires make the mind restless until they are fulfilled. When they
are fulfilled they make the craving still stronger. And if you cannot fulfill them by righteous
means, you may take recourse to means that are not good, in accordance with
dharma. You may tell lies,
do something that is not correct. You may even do it by hook or by crook, fair means or
These desires are not from outside you; they are from within
yourself. They can even torment a secluded recluse living inside a cave in a forest. He may have
hell inside that cave because of what is inside his head. Greed for things can destroy your peace,
make you burn, cost you your sleep. Envy and jealousy can also eat into your vitals. No matter how
much nourishing food you eat, you may be burning up and steadily losing weight.
People also suffer due to egoism, arrogance, exaggerated
self-importance. If you feel that you are not getting the proper respect, or are being treated in a
slipshod manner, you can be terribly upset, incensed for the whole day: "that person ignored me, or
spoke to me in that way; this person did not pay me the respect I am due; they did not give me the
right seat." Because you feel you are important, these things can cause misery, sorrow and torment.
They are not from outside, but are self-created, coming from within yourself.
Discretion being the better part of valour, it is usually possible to
escape from things outside you or to be far away from them. You can master the external objects and
say: "No, I will not let them interfere with my inner peace of mind." You may be able to avoid them
entirely. But how can you avoid things that emanate from within you? You cannot run away from
yourself. So you have to realise that greater danger lies within yourself, more harm can be done to
yourself by yourself than by all the objects of the external world put together. Hence you will
have to engage yourself in an inner discipline, an inner transformation, an inner restoration of a
right state of affairs within yourself.
Think about it. Then you will find that because the state of affairs
within you is not right, you are caused much misery. You are made restless. You are at the mercy of
these things which come from within. And if you are not able to clearly recognise their presence
within you, or if they are vague and illusive, you cannot deal with them. You know that they are
there when they manifest, but otherwise you do not know where they are hiding, in what form they
are lurking in the depths of your mind. Unless you find out, it is not possible to deal with them.
How can you deal with an unknown, unseen adversary? They have to be brought to the surface. They
have to be cornered. You have to go after them.
That is why Guru Maharaj Swami Sivananda said: "Sit alone, turn your
mind inward, introspect, do self-examination, try to find out what is within yourself, analyse the
inner contents." This is indispensable. Otherwise you will not know yourself. And you will be
surprised, amazed and even dismayed by what things can come up within yourself when you sit for
meditation, for example, or when you are moving about in society. You will discover things you
never dreamt of, things you never suspected you are capable of. You can be such a stinker. You can
be such a nasty person. Or, you can be dismayed by seeing within yourself qualities you cannot
stand in others. Suddenly, you humbly experience, they are there, right within you. It is a
If you are honest with yourself, if you are wise and if you are
keenly introspective and analytical, then these things can be found out. However, they are not
found out in a day. One day's introspection will reveal nothing. One week's introspection will
reveal nothing. They have been there for decades, from your birth, maybe from another birth.
Therefore, you must be after this sadhana, this process of self -
introspection, analysis, self examination.
If you practise this unrelentingly, with determination, if you
persevere in this sadhana, you will be rewarded with a lot of knowledge, a lot of revelation about
yourself. Then you are in a position to bring about the desired change, not otherwise. Until you
know yourself, you cannot work upon yourself, you will not be able to turn brass into gold, to
bring about the transformation that Yoga and sadhana are supposed to bring about,
that Guru, mantra, japa,
prayer, worship and bhajan are supposed to bring about. And they must bring it about, but only when
they are accompanied by this type of honest self-examination, earnest introspection, sincere desire
to find out, see, know yourself, to discover the inner contents of your mind.
It is this sadhana that makes the other forms
of sadhana effective
and fruitful. If you do it sincerely, then, day by day, you will become better and better. Your
inside will be purer and purer. You will become a better person. This is the thing that Gurudev
drew our special attention to. He also gave various practical methods to achieve this -
introspection, self-analysis, spiritual diary.
So you have to be honest with yourself; not only honest with God and
the rest of your fellow human beings, the world around you, but also honest with yourself. You have
to be earnest and sincere. Then victory is yours. Then you will see yourself clearly, as you look
into a mirror, a clean mirror. Then, with that knowledge you are better equipped to deal with
yourself, to bring about the requisite change, the necessary transformation, and move towards
divinity and godliness. May God bless you, and may the grace and benedictions of Gurudev enable you
to be successful in this all-important inner sadhana!
Extracted from "Ponder these truths" by Swami
Published by The Divine Life Society,