Guru, God, and Sadhana
Guru Anushashana -- the scriptures will not be an open book until you get a real teacher. Combine the revealed scriptures and the living God (Guru).
We [SRV Associations] try to renew peoples' interest in the scriptures.
The scriptures are like a lava tube that keeps the lava hot till it reaches the ocean, and adds land to the island. The scriptures of India have been sheltered over the ages right to this time of the Kali Yuga and the West...a time of spiritual darkness (kali yuga). They've remained pure due to the practice of certain principles by singular individuals over long periods of time.
Most people read something and they're done with it. But that's not how it is done with scripture. You read one verse, or you hear it, and then reflect upon it for a long time. How long?......according to Shankara in the Vivekachudamani scripture, "a long, long time...."
So if you want to ripen your malas (limitations) you will do japa, meditate, study, and perform selfless service. If you can't do these then surrender to Sri Ramakrishna. This is a practice too, one with its own special characteristics and benefits.
But there is also Buddhi Yoga/Mano Yoga as taught by Holy Mother. You examine what is in your mind and you give up what is detrimental. Can you do that? Brooding, worrying, low self-esteem, self-worth -- if you can renounce such as these you will become a true renouncer.
The 4 Treasures are not practices. You either have them or not. If you want a practice, you have to go to Yoga. [Note: The Four Treasures are: discrimination, detachment, the six jewels (inner peace, self control, contentedness, forbearance, concentration, faith), and longing for liberation.] With practice of Yoga these Four Treasures will develop in you naturally...almost without your knowing it.
Bhajan, puja, and arati (devotional singing, ritual worship and offerings) - these three alluring offerings are important to do in order to keep the bhakti side of our practice going.
When a true devotee moves to or buys a new house, he/she establishes the Deity first -- this ensures purity of location. Do your Siva puja everyday and establish Hanuman in your home. This gives great strength. Once you create this sacred space, then purity of action can manifest there. Envisioning Thakur (The Lord) in your mind, and establishing Him there in that sacred space conduces to purity of mind.
The third stage of life in traditional Vedic dharma is vanaprasta. The vanaprastin's children are grown and are probably raising their own children. There was no fogginess in this stage, no inadvertence like is seen in elderly worldly souls who go into retirement. Vanaprastins say to themselves, "Our life is almost over, we should definitely use our time to study and meditate." They don't brood and then ask "where am I going?" That's a stupid question. They are the Lord and Mother in a human body. Where do you think you're going to go? Back to the Lord and Mother, of course.
My teacher would state from the podium: "Don't idealize the Real; realize the Ideal." You see, if people do develop some measure of belief in or devotion to God, they usually relegate it to the sensational, the phenomenal, the mystical. They attempt to tack add-ons to something that is already complete and perfect. This is idealizing the Real. Better to see Reality as it is, and raise yourself up to It -- realize the Ideal.
God is eternally existent, pure, perfect, divine. You don't have to create It. People's mistake is that they are recreating God everyday via their mental projections or, as Swamiji described, "...throwing up such queer ideas of our fancy such as gods, angels demons, etc...."
You get to the Father through the Son. Then you can become a free soul in your own right. You should neither abandon the teacher nor cling to the Guru. Just look at where he/she is pointing, not at their finger.
Holy Mother said, wisely: "Do you expect that anything substantial will come without concentration of mind? The mind, at this stage of life, is essential. You will have to take the mind with you when you realize Brahman"
Consciousness is all-pervasive, but it lights up different aspects -- the gross state, subtle state, etc. -- depending upon the quality of mind.
If we do spiritual practices that turn the senses inward upon the power of the senses, then, when we let the senses focus externally once more, we see that they have changed their perspective. But you should know that the change is not in the senses or in Brahman, but in the mind and its power of sankalpa.
If you believe the scriptures come from the intellect of man, then they will change with man's intellect. You should instead maintain the perspective that the scriptures are the Word of God; in this way they do not get tampered with. The seers caution against the dualistic scriptures. They advise the revealed scriptures. You will know them because they deal with one's union with God. They also describe the nature of the world (maya) and the obstacles to realizing this union with God. So God, the soul, and the world -- these three things are treated in the scriptures. God stands on one side, and the soul on the other. The world lies in between. Ask it to move out of the way.....