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The Magic of Self-Esteem

(Swami Adhyatmananda)


Radiant immortal divinities, blessed children of the divine, this is what you are supposed to know that; ‘you are the radiant children of the divine’. Lord’s message for self esteem the Vedas says ”Ma Abhi hi”. Be fearless. If you realize this much, the self-esteem is in your hand, it is up to you. The key to success, you should know, you are the key. If you cannot help yourself, no one else can help you.

What is the real need of the time? What is my need? My need is to understand me. My guruji Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say: Realize and be free’. Unless and until you are free you cannot enjoy the magic of self-esteem. We cannot have freeness (of oneself) unless we are in a bondage of he, she, it and you and... so on. You cannot ask Mukeshbhai, ‘what is your real identity?’ The identity of an individual is the ‘denting’ of ‘I’; you cannot have self-esteem. A beautiful write up is there in Times of India’s new advertisement. The ‘I’ is missing there. Why ‘I’ is missing? It is because ‘I’ is left out from the spelling. The more you are near to the ‘missing’ of the ‘I’, more power (the supreme power) there is in you. The more humble, you will be opening to the reality; the more simple, more near to the absolute.

Once I had an opportunity to talk to Neil Armstrong. Also I had an occasion to talk to Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian who went to the moon. I also once met captain Kohly, who went on to conquer Everest. You sit by them and listen to them as to what they have to say about conquering. It is the real realization of their self-esteem to conquer themselves, and to know that, after landing on the moon, they are not even speck in the cosmos. On top of the Everest he realizes the great panorama presented before his eyes - The sky scraping the mountain, and all that. What is your situation there? Never become a victim of the superiority complex or the inferiority complex. Realize what you are and start from there because the ‘misconception’ is the principle cause of directing the mind.

You should know that you are seed. If I realize I am a seed, there is a provision for me to have a growth: I will be flowering, giving fruit; I can expand like anything.

There is a musical instrument. You can play a number of ‘swaras’ — shatja, nishada, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama, Dhavivatha, nishada, aroha, avaroha, etc, etc — out of it, but you have to tune it. You can create music out of the instrument; you are the key to create an opening to the absolute and nothing will be impossible for you then. What is required is the courage, the commitment, the dedication, the devotion, but everything requires discrimination. When you have discrimination, you have but also everyone walking in the street has got the potential divinity; only thing is you have to make them realize that ‘they can do it’. Once it comes from within, it becomes a great power, a great inner strength, and it will simply spurt from you.

Esteem can come from external application. It should come from internal urge and also eternally. ‘Because he has asked me, so I go’ - no, I should have the urge to go. Many people attend yoga classes. My friend attended it last year and spoke very high of it. So, I went but found it won’t work for a longer period. It has to come from within you. Since last five years I am asked to look after the Ahmedabad chapter of Sivananda Ashram, where we conduct our yoga activity. There people keep on coming year after year from distant places. What makes them to do so? They have the inner urge. The inner urge, the inner understanding, the self-knowledge that ‘I can do’, ‘it is not impossible’ has to be there.

You all may know the start relating Great Hanuman. As a little boy he jumped to catch the sun. The king of the Lords got annoyed and kicked the child. The father (god of wind) said: ‘I am not going to move’. The wind stopped, sages and saints and the celestial gods were horrified that if the wind stopped there would not be life on earth. They requested ‘Vayu’ to start functioning. But he said: “No, you have insulted my child”. Then they all said: “We will all give one boon each to Hanuman”. Then they called Hanuman and told him: “You will have the boon only when somebody tells you that you have it and then request you to use it.” When they were supposed to cross the ocean, each of the Vanaras - Nila, Angatha and others - said they could jump only a particular distance, which was not enough to cross the ocean. Then Jambavan said: “Hanuman, stand up. You have been given birth to work for Rama.” The moment he was asked to stand up, he roared and jumped. Nothing was impossible for him. He could become sukshma; he could become a virata (the giant). How great was his achievement! He walked at late night when the Asuras (demons) were fast asleep after drinking and dancing with their women lying half nude. This brahmachari was walking through each one’s private hermitage absolutely unaffected. Hanuman is Mahavira. What was his self-esteem? For him, nothing was impossible. You all should know one thing - ‘nothing is impossible for me’. Be fearless, you can then walk like a lion.

Where is then the problem? It is not in the external world, it is within us. No one can help you. You are the key to your success. The more you think that you are going to die, you will die. If you say to yourself - ‘I can win, I have to win’, you will win. It is winding or unwinding; you can open or close, you can choose. Is the aim of life only to eat, drink and get married? My Guruji Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj was a great embodiment of pushing up people for the self-esteem. A lady from Switzerland named Rosy came to meet my master to learn Yogasana. Not only that she had been to two different masters of music, Swami Nadabrahmanandaji Maharaj and Swami Vidyanandaji Maharaj. The former was the court sangeetha vidwan of Mysore Maharaja. The lady Rosy wanted to learn music from him. So my Guruji told him - “Oh, Nandabrahma Maharaji, teach music to her”. He agreed and taught her music. She was also amazed to note that Swami Vidyananda Maharaj could play veena, and she wanted to learn veena. You might have noted that all those who play on the veena practically lose the tip of their fingers: there is no life in them. So, ‘how to teach this lady, ‘he was worried. But she had self-esteem. She sat at the feet of the masters and learned the instrument. You will be surprised, she became a great musician by the name Swami Umasankarananda, and she is still alive, became the student of Rukmini Arundale of Kalakshetra, Madras; became a great sculptor. So, it is up to you, who is asking you, who is putting that spark in you? The correct Guru (master/teacher) is a Sine Qua Non, for the self-esteem.

Arjuna in the battlefield was sitting with his head hanging down; he did not want to fight. ‘I am getting saliva in my mouth, perspiration on my hand, let me have Sannyasa,’ he said. Krishna replied: “Yes, yes, I know you had a Sannyasa. Once you went for one year Sannyasa, and what did you do? You married Ulupi, and then took my sister away. This is your Sannyasa. Stand up!” Then Arjuna realized. What was his realization? ‘Moha’ is the obstacle between me and you’, that is, ignorance stands between self-esteem and the individual. The obstacles are within you. They are the thieves sitting within you. Lust, anger and greed are the three thieves within you and self-esteem is absolutely impossible as long as these three are present in you. Remove them. But it requires struggle for perfection.

In Karnataka there was a learned pundit, name “Sarvajna” who said: “You have to tune and train your body, you have to crush your ego, to enjoy the magic of self esteem, do you think is easy like holding the hand of a public prostitute?” Self-esteem is not possible by having a conglomeration like this. You have to struggle for it. "Struggle, struggle is the sine qua non of life and stagnation is death", says Swami Vivekananda. He too one day wanted to meditate. His master touched him and he went into a trance. Three days he was sitting; he was not there physically, he was in the deep silence of the absolute. He was having real realization. We invite a singer with golden voice — please come and sing this `ashtakam’. He says: “Give me taxi to and fro; get somebody to lift my harmonium and open it for me”. Do you not eat your bread yourself? Nobody chews it for you and put it in your mouth. As long as you were in the womb of your mother, she used to chew for you. Once you come out, it is your moral duty to chew for yourself. How long somebody will take you out holding your hand? It is time you stand up yourself. It is a very essential factor.

Swami Vivekananda realized this. He was not doing mere lip service. If you don’t make correct payment to the artist, their expression will change. Vayjayanthimala came to Ahmedabad years back but she went away with out dancing because the theatre was empty. She refused to perform to an empty auditorium. This is what the realization is. You can talk about it. My Guruji Swami Sivanandaji Maharaja was very blunt about it. A person can talk about self-esteem and also the same time for self-realization. Somebody says: There was no world there is no world, there will not be any world. Brahman is truth, world is illusion’. You call such a man to your house and prepare a sumptuous meal for him, but do not add salt in the ‘dal’. You serve him and he will say: ...‘Mataji, there is no salt in ‘dal’. You reply...‘ if there can be no world in the three ‘kals’ (past, present and future) of life, there can be no salt in ‘dal’ also...” Swamiji Sivanandaji Maharaj has warned - ‘self esteem, don’t be in illusion, be in reality instead. Ramakrishna Paramhansa said: “ A ‘jathi’ for dance one can do orally, but give him tablas, he will not be able to play the same jathi”, it won’t work. It is all false hypocrisy. Lust, anger and greed, it won’t work for a longer period. Be kind, be compassionate, and be pure. When you realize, it is bliss, bliss absolute for me at all condition. When the veil is removed, everything will be clear. It won’t work when you cannot have peace in your mind. Why don’t you be clear? Just be clear. You are taking a hot water bath and the mirror in the bathroom gets covered with steam and you cannot see your reflection in it. It was the same mirror in which you were able to see your face while shaving. Now, the mirror is there, vapor is not there but light is not there. You cannot see your reflection. So, light also is required. The whole world is like a mirror and you can see your reflection in it. It is up to you, the kind of face you produce to the world, and you get a reflection of it. You produce - ‘I am the brave, I am the brave’, the whole world is with you. ‘You can do systematically, scientifically, regularly with interest, without fail say’s Patanjali. It should not be a burden to you. Then the self-esteem will serve you like a servant. You stand up and the whole world will stand with you; you sing, the whole will sing with you.

Gandhiji, when he was young was afraid to go to Rashtriya Shala evening coaching classes (in Rajkot) because he thought there was a ghost in the neem tree, which was on his way. So, he was escorted to the school. One day, a maid suggested, ‘Why do you fear? Even you think there is a ghost, just say ‘Ram, Ram and walk your way”. After one week, he was able to go to the school without any escort. With the same word ‘Ram’ he later conquered the Royal English Kingdom. What was the magic, what was the instrument? He realized that ‘Ram’ was not in the external world. He also realized:  ‘More the Ram will go inside, the ‘Ram’ will take birth in me and I will not be Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but will be Ram himself. My hands, legs, eyes, ears, everything will be that of ‘Ram’. One day he was to pass through a station, and thousands of people had gathered in the Railway station (though the train was not to stop in that station). As the train passed by everyone was making ‘pranam’ to him and after train passed, they all went to touch the rails. What was that magic? So, it is up to you. ‘As you thinketh, so you becometh’. So, think positively.

In Andhra Pradesh they say: “.. Oh, tamarind, you are sour when you are raw, when you become ripe, still you are sour, even when you get dried up, the sourness does not leave you. Oh, onion, even after you have been peeled off cover after cover, the bad smell has not left you.” We are not tamarind, we are not onions. We are human beings. We are the children of the divine. That is our real nature; we have the knowledge to understand the self. It can come through systematic introspection of the absolute. We should be aware of the awareness, conscious of the consciousness. If we are in awareness all the time, the world is at our feet. What are we supposed to do then?

Don’t be easy going, be serious. Don’t laze about - ‘it has to be done today only’. You have your guidelines. With all awareness you have to guide yourself through. Awareness is concentration. It is like putting a thread though the eye of the needle where full concentration is required. Eye of the needle will not accept even little easiness; then the self-esteem; do you think will accept laziness? There should be cent percent alertness, awareness. Then the whole world is with you. You have to conquer the self first.

Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj has put down twenty spiritual instructions. Get up at 4 A.M, meditate without fail, have physical exercise (and if possible do Asanas and Pranayama), study of scripture, is a must, self analysis is a must: Ask everyday what are the virtues you are developing, what are the senses that are creating a problem to you, how many times I utter a lie, how many times I lose my temper, etc, etc. There is a book by Bapuji titled ‘self restraint versus self indulgence’. Go through it and you will realize what power you have. You should have purity of character. Ask yourself what are the bad habits I still have with me, is it a problem to me, and because it is a problem to me, is it a problem to my family and society, how can I eradicate it, what are my plans for eradicating my vices and to be blessed with virtues, how much I have already done, whether I had a silent sitting, whether I had my individual independent prayer, whether I had my family prayer, am I kind to my people? You ask these everyday and put it on paper. Then improve upon it everyday. You have to know that, ‘I will achieve’, and you will achieve. Charaivaiti Charaivaiti Charati Charto Bhagah”. How I feel, god is holding my hand’.

Many years back I had been to U.S.A. All my well-wishers here were asking me (before I was to leave for USA): How much dollars you are taking with you? I replied: “Nothing”. The gentleman, who came to see me off was the Ground Engineer in IA and he brought two notes of $ 20 and gave it to me saying, “Swamiji, you should have something with you’. I said: “I don’t take, I only bring.” Otherwise how can I run my institutions? So many programs my master wants me to run. I landed at New York airport with $ 40 in my pocket. For hand trolley/cart you have to put $1.5 in the machine; the handcart will be then available to you. As I was thinking how to find  $1.50, some unknown person approached me and reached in his pocket, gave me the required money and went away. When I came out, there were hundred people waiting to receive me. They had read in Gujarat Samachar about my program. They said: `Swamiji, your connecting flight to Orlando is after four hours. We have arranged everything for you”. Someone said `that my Guruji in Virginia were celebrating his fifty years of Sannyasa. It was impossible for me to leave Detroit and go to Virginia. My program was ahead planned. Also who will pay for the airfare? Someone said: `Swamiji, don’t worry, we will take you there.” After 15 hours drive he left me at Virginia. I wanted to buy some gift for Swamiji; somebody bought a beautiful costume and gave it to me. Before you think, God will come and go. Whether you have faith in God or not is immaterial, have faith in you. Think `you can do it’. That is Self Esteem.

Jaishuklal Hathi was the governor of Punjab and the Jullandar doordarshan invited me to take his interview. He said: ‘Swamiji, world is very interesting your Guru Maharaj Swami Sivanandaji has said that we have three types of people. The first type of people listens with one ear and let it go through the other. The second type listen and then say “...it was great, excellent.” You ask, “What is great?” They say: “I do not know; it was great...” Swami Chinmayanandaji used to make fun of such people. One day a gentleman came to him and says: ‘I know the whole of Bhagavad Gita by heart. Only in one stanza I have a doubt.” Swamiji asked him: ‘What is it?’ That particular stanza represents ‘Lord Krishna milking the cow (Upanishads) with its calf (Arjuna) standing nearby. The word ‘Dhugdha’ means milking’. But this gentleman did not interpret each word from the combination of words, which resulted in the term ‘Do-gadha’ which he could not understand. When he asked ‘Swamiji’ about the meaning of the word, Swamiji said: ‘I am the first gadha (donkey) and you are the second gadha’.

This is the problem. This is what you see everywhere. Wherever you go, whenever you want to start, you have to realize the real identity, and systematically meditate everyday.

Guruji Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj says: ‘...purify; meditate, realize; be good, do good; be kind, be compassionate; enquire who I am, know thyself and be free; you are the essence of not this body; you are the essence of immortal atman, radiant atman, eternal divinity; this is your duty, foremost duty; therefore do it now, do not postpone.” This is very easy to remember these by heart and chant. Here also we make a mistake.

Once a guru was teaching his disciples - ‘Sarvam brahmamayam...’ A mad elephant was running on the way. The mahavat was ringing. The bell and shouting.’ mad elephant is coming, get out of its path..’ The disciple remembered ‘Sarvam brahmamayam; and he did not move. The elephant kicked him and he was hospitalized for three days. His guru asked him - ‘what happened, what happened, what is wrong with you, what made you to stand in the middle of the road?’  He replied: ‘Guruji, you said ‘Sarvam brahmamayam. Elephant is brahman”. “But what the mahavat was saying’, Guruji asked. “He was saying, that the elephant is mad and asked everyone to get out of its path,” he said. Guruji then said: “.. There was a lower Brahman and an upper Brahman. You saw only the lower Brahman. You should have seen and listened the upper Brahman also. Then everything would have been alright.” So, when you are asking for self-esteem, you should be very clear about it. Don’t move in the life of illusion. Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said: ‘... be a sadhu, do not be a buddhu.’ In case you want to purchase an earthen pot, ask in three shops, check the pot by tapping four times’. This is practical Vedanta.

Swami Vivekananda, also known as Vividisananda was in Rishikesh with two spiritual brothers Sarath Maharaj and Sashi Maharaj. Sarath Maharaj was having fever. Bengalis have their own medicine that when someone is having a fever, he should be given ‘bhaingan ka baji’ (curry of brinjal) or eggplant. Where to go for brinjal in Rishikesh? Somehow they could find it in a private garden of one Vedanti mahatma. Sashi Maharaj approached him, gave his pranam asked him if he could have some brinjals from his garden. He replied: ‘No, it is not your father’s garden’. Shashi Maharaj was terribly upset - ‘he is talking about my father. I am a monk. I have cut my hair; I have broken my sacred thread. Where then is mother, father?’ He told Narendra (Vivekananda) what happened. Narendra said: ‘Don’t worry. After fifteen minutes you come and take as much brinjals as you want”. Narendra went inside and sat at the feet of Maharaj. He said: ‘Maharaj, in this area there is not a single qualified person like you. The other day I was listening to that Swamiji, he does not know. I was hearing your explanation, it was great. In this Atma Bodha, you explained like this. I am very keen. Sadhana Panchakam, please explain. Vivekachudamani, I love. I am at your feet”. Maharaj calmed down and he was pleased. After fifteen minutes they took all the brinjals from his garden and went away. Very difficult, self-esteem comes through there; the inner urge comes from there; the reality comes there. But we are in illusion.  Never give up, try again and again.  You will shine! Prosper too!

When you drive, so much fog is there, and there is a possibility of an accident happening. So, let us have clarity of thought. It cannot come unless and until you make the self-analysis. It is known as Swadhyaya. I give a lecture; you listen and talk to someone; that is not correct. Never be easy and lazy.

“The third type of people, as per Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, is very rare, Hathi said. They really have the magic of self-esteem. They will listen, grasp, introspect, digest and live accordingly.

‘But in the kaliyuga, there is the fourth type of people also,’ Jaishuklal Hathi said. To such people, anything they listen, rebounds. This is where self-esteem has no room. For self-esteem, grasp, sit at the feet of master, and make self-analysis. Then you will realize. At least try.

We are having a great Mahatma in our ashram. Many years before when I first went to the Ashram, whatever he talked, nothing entered my head. He has the style of Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and that of Aurobindo. He used to write one single sentence in thirteen pages! Who will understand? I said, ‘I will not go’. We had one Mataji (Krishnapriya Mataji) in our ashram. She asked me: ‘Why are you not coming to Krishnanda Swami’s lecture?” I said: “Mataji, I don’t understand anything”. She said: “Come, bring your paper and pen. Just listen. Out of one-hour talk, if you are able to grasp one sentence, it is enough. In one week he is taking three classes. So, every week you get three sentences for you. You get 12 lines in a month and 144 lines in a year.” This was my beginning. She just put a spark in me. Now I can repeat whole lecture in Hindi. Earlier, when he talked, I used to write long hand in Gujarati and then translate into Hindi and speak. People asked me “How did you do it?” My Guruji said: “It is the magic of self esteem”.

It is not impossible. If you have the urge - “I can do it, I will do it,’ then you will do it. Then the whole world is for you. So, you have to stand up, you have to roar, you have to decide. If you are having a system, if you are serious about it, develop a love for the subject; then the magic is there. We also are abiding and we bloomed and blessed with the magic of self-esteem, we realize, `this is your real nature’ that, you can create anything you want to create.

God bless you all.

Thank you.




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