Be A Lion of Vedanta

Babaji at Hidden LakeDear devotees, students, and friends of SRV,

       As the new year begins, here in early 2012, at its earliest inception, both my prayers and blessings are with you, particularly with regard to a burgeoning spiritual life.  For, human life, in this day and age, is either a pallid affair, or a matter of mundane repetition, or a frantic chase, or an exercise in futility without the presence of and participation in authentic spirituality.
       And what is spirituality, exactly?  Can it be defined?  It is that which goes unseen and undetected in the face of everyday life, but whose absence is nonetheless keenly felt by the embodied soul sojourning on earth, so far from its Source.  It is, as the seers have told us, like wind to a bird’s wings, or a breath of air to a drowning man.  All of life vibrates joyfully, and peacefully, if it is present, and pales to insignificance otherwise.
       The presence of spirituality is also indicated by that subtle energy which enters the heart and mind of the devotee who keeps up a constant practice in it.  For, spirituality can be acknowledged, lauded, talked about, preached, and even championed, but nothing much will come of all this if it is not practiced.  This is why Swami Vivekananda made the sobering remark based upon this realization, when he stated that many of us can speak most eloquently about the subject of spirituality, but few of us actually have any of our own. Those who do lead balanced lives, dharmic lives, lives attended by peace of mind and subtle bliss.
       The great Swami encouraged us here in the West to strive with constancy towards a life of the Spirit.  He saw in us the ability to manage it, even with all its subtleties, abstractions, and seeming contradictions.  Writing in a letter to one of his own countrymen, he explained: “Americans are fast becoming liberal.  Judge them not by the hard-shelled Christians that you see in India.  There are those here too, but their number is decreasing rapidly, and this great nation is progressing towards that spirituality which is the standard boast of the Hindu.”
       So, far beyond mere hope, there is solid reason to believe that the Vedanta will go far in the hands of the people of Europe and America, but only if its teachings are brought into our lives.  They cannot be left in  books and temples, and they must not be compromised via fads and passing phenomena.  The human tendency towards sensationalism and sentimentality should be left entirely out of the spiritual arena, and those who indulge in them must gravitate towards suitable inferior avenues along which to run.  Devotion, not emotion; scripture, not stricture; selflessness, not slavishness; meditation, not medication – the obvious ills and overlays of everyday life are to be renounced and rejected with inner conviction, not dallied with in some dazed, half-conscious state of inadvertence.  After all, we have a great leader and a shining example in Vivekananda.  Can’t you feel his exuberance for the Vedanta and his enthusiasm for the task at hand?

“My heart leaps with joy, and it is a wonder that I do not go mad when I find anybody thoroughly launched into the midst of the doctrine which is to shower peace on earth hereafter.  Are you ready to struggle unto life and death to bring about a new state of things — sympathy for the poor, and bread for their hungry mouths, enlightenment to the people at large — and struggle unto death to make men of them who have been brought to the level of beasts by the tyranny of your forefathers?  If you are really my children you will fear nothing, stop at nothing.  We must be like lions.  We must rouse India and the whole world.”

       And so, I have no message of my own if it is not his.  When the epitome of the Eternal Dharma in human form incarnates in your own age, even visits your own back yard, what else should sensitive people do? Go to war?  Not to harm anything, not even a flea.  But to war on ignorance — first one’s own, then that of others — is a different thing altogether.  May we take up the task then, and all tasks related to it that are pertinent to spirituality – which is an innate quality, not a foreign one.
       As your provisional guru, tell me what I can do for you.  Letters, questions, queries, request for teachings — these are falling off, not increasing.  I scarcely see an email come into my box about spiritual matters these days.  Is the world taking away the heart and mind of even the devotee for itself?  It must not be allowed.  As Holy Mother told us when She was in the body, “I have done far more than what was necessary to make my life an example of spirituality for you.”  When such great beings have gone to such great lengths to give us such great teachings for our greatest good, should not our return effort be equally great? Well, some things to consider as we enter this “new” year.

Shanti, Shanti, Shantih!