Friday, 2 May 2014

Swami’s Discourse on striving for world peace and prosperity

THE dualistic attitude of man was born out of a sense of separateness which was not correct.
Man should realise his inherent divinity and get rid of identification of his real Self with the
body. The body is only an instrument for realising the Self. No great scholarship is needed for
achieving this realisation. The attitude of surrender to the Divine and dedicating all thoughts,
words and actions as an offering to the Divine will lead to Self realisation. The bliss one will
experience in that state is beyond description in words.
Today marks the beginning of the year Akshaya (according to the Hindu Almanac). Akshaya is a
combination of "Kshaya" and "A." "A" represents the Atmaswarupa--the Absolute, the Eternal.
"Kshaya" represents the Jivaswarupa--the individual entity that is liable to change. Akshaya
indicates the union of the unchanging Eternal Spirit and the impermanent individual entity.
Because of the association of the human entity with the indestructible and eternal principle, you
have to investigate what is permanent and unchanging and what is transient and liable to decay.
The march of time is inevitably associated with ups and downs, joys and sorrows, gains and
losses. This is inherent in the nature of the world, which is called Jagat--That in which birth and
death take place. ("Ja" means birth and "ga" means passing).

Very few practise what they preach
According to Indian astrology, today marks the beginning of a new year, with the first day of the
first month Chaitra. It is a Thursday. For every year, there is a ruling deity and there is a minister
to the ruler from among the nine planets. For this Akshaya, the ruler is Brihaspati (Jupiter) and
the minister is Chandra (the Moon). Both these planets are favourably placed and will have
beneficent influences on the world, according to astrology. Because of the moon's favourable
aspect---the moon being the presiding deity for the mind---the mental dispositions of people in
general are likely to be calm and peaceful. It is essential, in this connection, to recognise the
intimate link between thoughts and actions. All the world's troubles today are due to the fact that
there is no harmony between men's thoughts and words and their deeds. There is no dearth today
of persons who preach Dharma (righteousness). There is no limit to propagandists, but those
who practise what they preach are few and far between. The world needs today more people who
will practise the good life and strive for the welfare of mankind. Rather than preach a hundred
precepts, it is better to practise a few of them.

Significance of rituals
In many of the religious practices today, there is concern only for observing the external forms,
with little regard for the inner significance of these rites. For instance, one wishes to offer a
coconut to the idol in a temple. No care is taken to see whether the coconut is a good one or not.
The mere breaking of a coconut, even if it is a rotten one, is considered enough for fulfilling the
offering. Note the inner significance of the ritual. The coconut is a symbol of the heart. Before it
is offered to God, all the outer fibre has to be removed. This means, spiritually, removing the
Tamasic (evil) tendencies from our heart. The shell of the coconut symbolises the Rajo guna in
us. The white kernel inside the coconut represents the Satwa guna. What we have to offer to God
is a pure heart, without the Tamasic and Rajasic qualities such as anger, hatred and attachment. It
is this purity of heart that must be manifested in making any offering to God and not the
mechanical breaking of a coconut as a meaningless ritual.
Some persons imagine that they will derive spiritual benefit merely by going to a sacred shrine
and spending sometime there. When you are in a temple, your thoughts should be centered on
God. When you are inside a temple, you must install God within you. That is true worship. If you
merely sit in a temple, while your mind is wandering in the bazaar, there is no merit in it.
There are persons who recite mantras regularly, repeating the words correctly. But such
recitation is of no use if there is not some understanding of the meaning of the mantras.
Meaningless chanting of mantras, visiting temples without thoughts of God and breaking
coconuts before idols without purity of the heart are spiritually useless. In every small act of
worship, one must have regard for its inner significance and sacredness and do it with
earnestness and purity.

Do not allow faith in God to weaken
Whatever troubles you may face, whatever ordeals you may encounter, you should not allow
your faith in God to weaken to the slightest extent. You must learn a lesson from the Chakora
bird. There may be terrible thunder and blinding lightning in the sky. But the Chakora bird will
follow the cloud to catch the raindrops in the sky and will not go to any other source for water.
Nothing less than the pure raindrops from the cloud will satisfy the Chakora. Likewise, you
should yearn always for the bliss of nearness to God, whatever difficulties or joys you may
experience in life.
Moreover, in the quest for mental peace, you should not be concerned only about your individual
need. Apart from such a quest being an index of intense selfishness, it is also a futile one. Is it
possible for a single individual alone to achieve peace? If there is chaos and unrest all around
you, how can you alone have peace? If there is no peace in the home or in the community, how
can you have peace? Your peace is dependent on peace in the family, in society and in the world.
When there is peace in these, you will get peace.
You cannot be indifferent to the state of the environment in which you live. One who wishes to
dig a well for pure water will choose a spot far from polluted or saline areas. If you want to
achieve peace, you have to see that the atmosphere around you is conducive to peace. This
means that you have to cultivate the feeling that your individual peace is intimately related to the
peace of the world. It was out of a realisation of this profound truth that the ancients prescribed
the universal prayer: "Lokaas-Samasthaas-Sukhino Bhavanthu" (May all the people in all the
worlds be happy).
Faith and love are necessary for godly life
It is only when we strive for world peace can we ensure our own individual peace. The mark of a
genuinely godly person is that he strives not only for his peace, happiness and bliss, but also for
the peace, prosperity and happiness of the world as a whole.
Faith and Love are the two primary requisites for leading a godly life. These two are as important
for man as the two wings for a bird or the two wheels for a chariot.
You must take a pledge on this Yugadi day to face with equanimity all the vicissitudes of life,
the joys and sorrows that are incidental to human existence. Traditionally, on Yugadi day people
consume a preparation made up of ingredients with various tastes---sweet, sour, bitter, etc. The
inner meaning of this 'practise is that one must be prepared for every kind of experience in life.
Whether happiness or sorrow, praise or blame, gain or loss--whatever comes along--you must
resolve to face it with serenity and faith. Our ancients placed this ideal before the nation out of
their experience and realisation. Today no heed is being given to their teachings. The traditions
and teachings that have come down to us are full of significance and have perennial validity. It is
only when we practise these truths that we will realise their inner purpose and enduring value.

Good prospects for Akshaya
The Akshaya year will be altogether a fairly good year with no serious untoward developments.
However, the first two months---from mid-April to mid-June---are likely to witness some serious
troubles. The heat will be excessive and some fire disasters may occur in May-June (Vaisakha
month). Serious accidents during travel are likely. From the third month onwards (that is, after
mid-June) conditions will be favourable for peace and prosperity. Astrologically, important
changes all over the world are expected during the year. But all these will be for the good. Not
India alone, but all countries will benefit from these changes.
In this context, it is the foremost duty of everyone to pray for the peace, welfare and happiness of
all people in every country. Everyone should take note that during this year, however soft and
careful one may be in speech or action, there is likelihood of differences and divisions
developing between persons and groups. Even friends are likely to fall out. Every care has to be
taken to observe restraint in speech.
Compared to the past two years--Rakthaakshi and Krodhana - the new year Akshaya promises to
be a good year. Some hangover from Krodhana may continue M Akshaya for a short spell. Hence
in the first two months people have to conduct themselves with caution. After that, Akshaya will
be Akshaya. (The year Akshaya will see no deterioration or decline.)

Promote the welfare of the world as a whole
Promote the welfare of the world as a whole Strengthen the "Akshaya" in you--the imperishable
Supreme--and there will be no need to worry about any year or month. Fill your mind and heart
with the spirit of Akshaya and sanctify your lives by having pure thoughts and doing pure
actions. This is my benediction for you all on this sacred Yugadi day. Everyone must strive to
promote the peace and welfare of the world. You must broaden your outlook, shedding the
narrow concern about your own well-being, and developing the eagerness to promote the welfare
of the world as a whole. You must recognise the basic truth that your individual well-being is
bound up with the well-being of all people. On every available occasion recite the sacred name
of the Lord.

Ugadi Day discourse at the Mandir in Prashaanthi Nilayam, on 10-4-1986.
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