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What you need

by Swami Sivananda

FAITH, THE GREATEST THING

Faith is sraddha. Faith is the greatest thing in the world. Even the greatest philosopher has faith as his stronghold. No intellectualism can prove good if it is unsupported by faith. The whole world stands on faith, is guided by faith.

Religion has faith as its root. One cannot prove God if he has no faith in God. And this faith is the outcome of samskaras (past mental impressions). Faith is guided by impressions of actions done in previous births.

Blind faith should be turned into rational faith through understanding. Bhakti (devotion) is the development of faith. Jnana (self-knowledge) is the development of bhakti. Faith leads to the final experience. Whatever a person strongly believes in, that he experiences and that he becomes.

This whole world is a product of faithful imagination. If you have no faith in the world, the world does not exist. If you have no faith in sensual pleasure, you will not get pleasure from sensual objects. If you have no faith in God, you will never reach perfection. Wrong faith can even turn existence into non-existence. Faith is the fundamental necessity for spiritual sadhana (practice).

Aspiration is a development of faith. The flame of faith burns as the conflagration of spiritual aspiration for moksa (liberation). The devotee longs to have union with the beloved - he has no sleep, no rest. He always contemplates how to attain the object of his love. He prays, he sings, he gets mad with his Lord. Divine madness overtakes the devotee and he completely loses his personality in the aspiration for attaining God. This is called self-surrender.

You must have an ideal to live for - otherwise you will be heedless, depressed and negative. Understand well before you take a step. Have a clear cut ideal and then have right attempt. Faith in God, faith in oneself, faith in the guru (preceptor), faith in the wise teachings, faith in all that is good and noble - this is the sap of life.

FAITH VERSUS REASON

Faith is first and reason is second. Faith is life and doubt is death. Reason is powerless to know God. Faith alone takes one to God. He who has faith has everything. He who has no faith has nothing. Have intense, unswerving faith - in the measure in which you have faith, you will achieve.

Faith brings God closer and reason puts Him far away. Faith is not blind belief - it grows out of the wisdom of the heart. Do total surrender to the Lord - keep nothing back, not even a little pride. Surrender yourself and your all to the Lord.

Say to the Lord: "O Lord! Give me only that which is best for me, because only you know what that is." A life of faith and devotion and of absolute faith in the name of the Lord will always be successful in the long run. Through love, faith and devotion alone is God-realisation possible.

Prayer releases God's power. It should consist of confession, praise and petition. Prayer is a spiritual tonic - it purges the mind of all its impurities - such as desire, attachment, anger, lust, etc. It also strengthens a man's aspiration and brings him closer to God. It brings him into the presence of God.

Pray to the Lord for strength and help as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. Satsanga (the company of holy men), faith, single-minded devotion to one's ideal, intense love for God, bhava (feeling), and prema (divine love) bring the devotee face to face with God.

Trust in the Lord with all thy heart. Acknowledge him in all thy ways. He will direct thy spiritual path. God helps the sincere aspirant at every step. God will help you too. He will bless you, inspire you and throw light upon the path. Never mind about the external environments. Create your own internal environments, wherever you are.

BALANCE OF MIND

Samadhana is mental balance. There is perfect concentration now. This is the fruit of the practices of sama (control of mind), dama (control of the senses), uparati (turning away), titiksa (endurance) and sraddha (faith). It is fixing the mind on atman (self) without allowing it to run towards objects and have its own way. It is self-settledness. Sri Sankaracharya defines in "Atma-Anatma Viveka": "Whenever a mind engaged in sravana (hearing) and the rest wanders to any worldly object or desire, and finding it worthless, returns to the performance of the three exercise such returning is called samadhana."

The mind is free from anxiety amid pains. There is indifference amid pleasures. There is stability of mind or mental poise. The aspirant or practitioner lives without attachment. He neither likes nor dislikes. He has a great deal of strength of mind and internal peace. He has unruffled supreme peace of mind.

Some aspirants have peace of mind when they live in seclusion, when there are no distracting elements or factors. They complain of great tossing of mind (viksepa) when they come to a city, when they mix with people. They are completely upset. They cannot do any meditation in a crowded place, This is a weakness. This is not achievement in samadhana. There is no balance of mind or equanimity in these persons. Only when a student can keep his balance of mind even in a battlefield when there is a shower of bullets all round, as he does in a solitary cave in the Himalayas, can he be really said to be fully established in samadhana.
Lord Krishna says in the Gita: "Perform all actions, O Dhananjaya, dwelling in union with the divine, renouncing attachments, and balanced evenly in success and failure." This is samadhana. Again you will find in the Gita: "The disciplined self, moving among the sense objects with senses freed from attraction and repulsion, mastered by the self, goeth to peace." This is also samadhana.


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