Spiritual Life 
Swami Chidananda

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Blessed Immortal Atman! Spiritual life is an earnest endeavor to transcend sense-perceived, temporary appearances, unrealities, and attain to a vision and an experience of the super sensuous Divine Reality. It is an attempt to transcend changeful and passing sense appearances and to rise up and become established in the Reality that is ever-present amidst these ever-changing, temporary appearances as their very source, their support and their substratum.

That Reality is present as thread is present in cloth, as earth is present in pots made of clay, as gold is present in diverse gold ornaments. Even as thread pervades all cloth, even as earth pervades all clay pots, even as gold pervades all golden ornaments, even so is the invisible support, centre and source, our goal, ever-present in the midst of passing appearances.

That Reality is present even as oil is present in oil seeds. Though the seeds are dry, there is occult oil hidden within. Even as butter is present in milk, as silence is present in the midst of sound which is only superimposed over it, even so, invisibly, the Reality is present in the midst of unrealities. A painting is possible only because there is a canvas behind it. A painting cannot be painted on an empty frame, a canvas is required. A movie can be seen only because there is a screen present.

Eko devah sarvabhuteshu gudhah (God, Who is one only, is hidden in all beings). It is hidden because of Its subtlety. It is hidden because It is by nature a principle, an essence, beyond and devoid of name and form, whereas the human mind and intellect are conditioned only to think on the basis of names and forms. The only things the eyes can see are size, shape and colour. But behind and beyond the names and forms there is the nameless and formless Being, a Being Who exists, a Being Who is of the nature of luminous consciousness, a Being Who is endowed with the quality of pure bliss—sat-chit-ananda Brahman.

And to attain this ever-present Reality, hidden behind the outer screen of ever-changing and passing names and forms, to perceive this ever-present Reality, you must develop subtle vision. And subtle vision is only acquired by purification of your heart and mind: the greater the purity, the greater the subtlety of mind; the greater the subtlety of mind, the deeper the perception. And to grow in purity so that the vision is purified, the mind becomes subtle, one should do sadhana (spiritual practice).

The objective of all human effort is to attain supreme happiness, peace and satisfaction. These the world cannot give. But being in the world, one can achieve peace, happiness and satisfaction in God. One attains the supreme peace and joy of God only by knowing God, only by worshipping God. But to approach and to enter into God, to have vision of God, one has to acquire the same state of subtle consciousness as God. The more you become godly in nature, the more you begin to become aware of God’s presence in His universe. God experience comes when you grow in godliness.

Spiritual life means growing in godliness. Sadhana in its various forms such as japa, kirtan, puja, svadhyaya, asana, pranayama and meditation is a process of purifying and transforming your normal human nature into godly divine nature. And to ensure that your outer life of day-to-day living—speaking, acting, interacting with others and all life around you—to ensure that it supports your inner sadhana, you are admonished by Gurudev to transform your present outer life into a divine process, a divine life, not the life that you have been leading in the past, but a divine life. You have to make your life a divine life by bringing into it ingredients and qualities that belong to God, incorporating into it divinity, godliness, qualities that we do not normally associate with man, that we do not normally associate with this world, this earth plane.

So, on earth you have to be creatures of a realm beyond earth. Appearing as human beings you have to inwardly grow into the very form of a divine being, godly being. This is the secret of success in sadhana. This is the crucial test of the depth of your understanding of sadhana—grasping the quintessence of this inner process. It is to deeply understand the necessity of supporting one’s sadhana, the process of life transformation, by a divinely lived daily life. Unless this is understood, unless this task is undertaken, one’s sadhana will fail to bring about the necessary transformation.

Therefore, with full knowledge and understanding, you should proceed upon the spiritual path. It is no more or no less than a process of total transformation of the human individual personality, a total transformation into divinity. Understanding is the first thing needful; second is the will power and wisdom to translate understanding into actual life; and third is a persistent perseverance, which is the only guarantee of success in this determined pursuit of the divine life, this determined pursuit of godliness in daily life. These are vital facts for you to ponder, for you to reflect upon. God bless you!


This article has been reproduced from "Ponder these Truths" by Swami Chidananda.

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