Dynamic Sravana (Hearing, Listening)

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Radiant Divinities! Great sages have revealed to us many invaluable facts about this life of ours in this universe created by the supreme, cosmic Intelligence-Power, chit sakti, chaitanya sakti. They have placed before us many subtle truths, which are not truths arrived at by speculation, but the outcome of their own deep, inner, direct personal experience, their state of illumination, enlightenment and Self-realisation, what the Upanishads call aparokshanubhuti and sakshatkara. These gems are scattered throughout the scriptures, and night after night in this sanctified hall choice selections of these truths, of these invaluable experiences, stated as authoritative declarations, as wisdom revelations, come to you through the discourses of people who graciously give of their time, presence and service to share.

Through the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Panchadasi many truths are given. We hear them not merely to pass a little time in satsang, but to receive, cherish, reflect upon, and to grow in our own inner state of consciousness, to acquire more and more jnana, so that gradually our interior is more and more illumined. That is our prayer: “dhiyo yo nah prachodayat—Illumine our inner being, may darkness vanish and light prevail.”

Thus, day after day, as we listen to each discourse, we cannot deny that at least one gem of truth, one revealing truth, a fact of life, is sure to be obtained if we listen with attention. Each occasion is an occasion for ceaseless onward progress—continuous inward ascent unto ever higher states of consciousness, understanding and wisdom—to liberate ourselves from all that we desire to liberate ourselves from, to attain all that we desire to attain which we now feel is perhaps not attained.

So, it is in such a creative way, a positive and constructive way, that receiving is to be done. Listening is for renewal. Sravana (listening to scriptures) is for rebirth. Sravana is for steady forward movement towards the Goal. Sravana is for stage by stage, higher and higher ascent unto illumination and enlightenment. Receiving them, we are also ultimately meant to reach that self-same state of experience from which these truths were declared, shared and given in the ancient past by all the illumined, perfected sages.

Among these truths, paradoxical and puzzling, but worth reflecting upon is a simple declaration in the Isa Upanishad: “taddure tadvantike—That Spirit, the Supreme Spirit, the Reality is far off, is remote. No, It is ever near, It is close to you, you are ever in Its immediate proximity.” Why did the sage say this? And if it is so, what does it mean to us?

Let us not try to find out what it means to A, B, C, someone else, some seeker, some tapasvin. “No, why should I be concerned about these truths in their relationship to others, to human society? I am, and should be, deeply concerned about what they mean to me.” Because it is the privilege and prerogative of each seeker, each jijnasu who listens, to ponder the truths received from this angle: “What does this truth mean to me? Why has it been shared with me?” Thus commences a process of dwelling upon what has been heard with keen eagerness to receive it in a creative and positive way: “In what way can this truth I have listened to, that has come into my life, in what way can it enrich me, raise me higher, take me nearer to that great Goal?”

“If It is near, what does this imply to me?” If a mother or father is near, a child is fearless. If a policeman or soldier is near, a citizen is fearless. He feels safe; it is an immediate reaction. Even a small dog is filled with rare courage if it is walking with its master. It will bark at a dog ten times its size, that normally it would run away from. Why? Because it has got courage, the strength of someone behind it, the feeling that when he is there nothing can happen. And this is a normal and natural reaction; it is not merely a fanciful feeling.

Great sages have sometimes declared: “Be fearless, do not worry.” And you all know the famous assurance of Sai Baba of Shiridi, (it has gone into all languages): “When I am there, why do you fear?” Likewise: “Come unto Me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” Has this great truth evoked this robust feeling within you, in your life? When the Gita says, “ma suchah (do not grieve)” or the Upanishad, “tarati sokam atmavit (the knower of the Self goes beyond sorrow),” has that come to you as a wonderful, great assurance, banishing all grief and sorrow from you? And when you hear, “tadantike—It is near you, that great Spirit is ever at hand,” what has it done for you?

Each seeker approaches Reality in order to become transformed, in order to be reborn and enter into a new consciousness. And God, out of His infinite love for us, keeps on bringing us these great truths every day. One who receives must receive with a positive intention, a living, vital purposefulness. Listening, sravana, is not a passive process. It is a process of giving and receiving, both done in a vital way. For it is filled with the power of the realisation of great sages. Satsanga, sravana, is therefore a process that is vital, living, dynamic, gainful. In this dynamic way, therefore, sravana should become for us an ever progressive sadhana, a process of daily living, a daily revivification of our aspirations, our spirit, our enthusiasm, our spiritual life.

Ponder, therefore, this truth revealed in the Isa Upanishad. It is almost as if the sage said, “It is remote, far off. No, no, I am sorry, it is an error. It is close by, nearer than the nearest, ever close, closer to you than anything else.” It is as though he corrects himself and tells you a greater truth.

Let us, therefore, take a fresh look at our satsanga, svadhyaya and sravana and re-orient our approach and our daily encounter with such sravana. Let it be for a renewal of our awareness of what we are, what our life is to be, an awareness of the direction in which our life, our thoughts, our emotions should flow, and an awareness of the Goal which has been declared to us to be that supreme attainment that takes one beyond sorrow and bestows upon one bliss, peace, freedom and fearlessness. May it be a process of ever recurring rebirth into ever higher and higher levels of awareness, consciousness and understanding. Thus let our spiritual life proceed ever onward, ever towards the Goal, progressive, never stagnant. That is spiritual life. That is the purpose of all processes of spiritual sadhana, including sravana. God bless you!

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