Radiant Immortal Atman! Beloved children of the Divine! You who are jijnasus searching for knowledge that enlightens and wisdom that liberates, you who are mumukshus yearning for liberation, liberation from ignorance, darkness and bondage, from finite limitations, know this truth: that though God-realisation, or the supreme state of liberation and illumination, is not the product of karma, is not the result of an act or the fruit of a certain process or exertion, but it is nitya prapta avastha (eternally attained state), nija svarupa (one’s own true nature), nevertheless, precisely in order to become convinced of this, to know this intellectually, to develop faith and belief in this truth, and to realise this as an experience, one’s own personal experience, tremendous effort is necessary. Action is called for and that action is called sadhana.
Vedanta siddhanta (philosophy) says that the supreme experience, the realisation of the Absolute, is not the result of karma, because if anything is the product of an action, it means there was a time when it did not exist and it has since come into being. The grain harvested by the farmer did not originally exist upon the field. It was through his labour—ploughing, sowing, watering, weeding—that ultimately the field yielded a harvest. The harvest is relative. It is related to something else and is limited in time and space; it is related to a cause. Whereas the Absolute is not related to anything. It is the causeless cause of all things; it is beginningless and endless, unlimited.
Therefore Vedanta siddhanta declares: “Even continuous activity carried on for hundreds of crores of births will not be effective in bringing about brahma-jnana, precisely because the Absolute does not come under the confines or the limitations of a cause and effect phenomenon, an action and the fruit of action process.”
You cannot become something which you already are. It makes no sense. You cannot become something which you eternally are, which you have never been not at any time in eternity. Anything that was not and is brought into being will also become once again not, it will go out of being. That is the defect if it is the end product of any process. It becomes subject to the law of causation. There is no up and down in Self-realisation. It is always full, never changes, never alters.
But, nevertheless, the one thing all Gurus insist upon to attain Self-realisation is act, act, act, ceaseless sadhana, ceaseless struggle, ceaseless endeavour, do this, do that. Nothing illustrates it better than the extremely strenuous effort put forth by the Zen meditator in order to attain satori. Unbelievable, incredible, how they have to exert and break their head for hours and hours together engaged in inner meditation. They struggle, break out in perspiration; some even collapse from the intensity of effort.
Our revered Sri Swami Brahmanandaji Maharaj wrote a treatise called Revelation of the Ever-Revealed. If it is ever revealed wherein comes effort? What is the truth in the juxtaposition of two contradictory statements both from the highest authority of the scriptures and from realised beings?
Is it paradoxical? Do the Gurus go contrary to the declaration of Vedanta siddhanta, to the ultimate thesis of Vedanta? There is no paradox. The Vedanta siddhanta is true. It is not the result of effort. But strenuous effort, life-long effort is required. Totapuri, the Guru who gave advaita jnana upadesa to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, is known to have told him that he struggled hard for forty years before he could attain realisation.
Sadhana means effort, purushartha. The simple fact is that without sadhana God-realisation is impossible. Without earnest, sustained, continuous effort combined with great interest and enthusiasm, realisation is impossible. Maharshi Patanjali declared: “Sustained, continuous sadhana for a long period of time, with keen interest and enthusiasm, brings about results.” It is absolutely true. It is necessary. This sadhana, this effort, is necessary not to attain Self-realisation, which is an ever-present experience, but to remove all that stands in the way between you and that ever-present experience, to remove the covering of ignorance that hides it from being experienced.
A person in poverty sitting in a miserable hut is told by a spiritual personality endowed with intuition: “All your poverty can vanish, for there is a buried treasure twelve feet beneath the place where you are sitting, right here in the centre of this hut.” Now, the treasure is right there. It has not been created, it has not been brought into being. But will it make any difference to this man’s poverty, will it buy him a morsel of food notwithstanding the fact that the treasure is already there, it is inside the boundaries of his hut, he is sitting over it?
No. He will have to start digging, straining every limb, wiping perspiration. He has to exert, dig and dig and dig. The treasure may be there, but he is the same poor man until he digs and digs and penetrates the twelve feet of earth. Even if he has dug eleven feet, eleven inches, he is still the same poor man. It is only when he has gone the full twelve feet that he is able to put his hand on the treasure and lift it up. Then alone his poverty vanishes and he is wealthy beyond his dreams. Exertion alone allowed him to attain the treasure. Exertion alone could bring him into living contact with what already existed in all its fullness.
This is the way you can understand the necessity of exertion to attain that which is already there in close proximity. Tulsidas says: “You can create a blaze of fire from a block of ice, you can squeeze dry sand and make oil drip out of it, but this is sure, without sadhana, without worship, without adoration, you can never cross this ocean of samsara.” This rule will never vary—therefore, exertion, exertion, exertion, sadhana, sadhana, sadhana.
“Do real sadhana my dear children,” sang Gurudev. Upon the spiritual path a happy-go-lucky temperament is no good. Laziness is no good. Vain excuses for not doing sadhana are no good. And fanciful notions that without sadhana you can get realisation are no good. Sadhana is the one thing necessary; effort is indispensable. Through effort you attain that which needs no effort to actually be experienced. But effort is needed to remove all that is intervening without and within.
Thus understand your life, your present need, and the ultimate Goal in this light. Be true to your name sadhak. Engage in spiritual sadhana. Do not allow lethargy to overcome you; do not allow cynicism to develop. Every act of sadhana is valuable if it is done with a spirit of surrender, with a spirit of being an instrument through whom God is gracious enough to get these things done. Selfless service, meditation, japa, reflection, viveka, vichara—all this is sadhana. Always feel: “Blessed am I to be the instrument on which the Divine is playing in the form of spiritual sadhana.”
Thus stand apart, and with humility, in a spirit of dedication, engage in vigorous sadhana, never allowing fatalism to overcome your spirit, never allowing doubt to stand in your way. Doubt should be rent asunder with the sword of determination, wisdom, common sense, intelligence. Never allowing any of these dire negative states to even approach your mind, consciousness, vigorously moving forward, with enthusiasm, engage in spiritual sadhana! This is the great necessity! This is the great good!
Sivananda Yoga (Yoga DVD)
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