ONE has to begin as early as possible with one’s spiritual life. Unless we have sown the seed of spirituality in our soul early in life, there is no possibility of creating the spiritual mood in later life. Those who are not spiritually minded while they live in the world, can never be spiritually minded when they retire from the world. They will find that the old impure impressions have become so deep that there is no possibility of effacing them. That they have become the slaves of their instincts and impulses, and that they can no longer act in the way they would like to, cannot take up a higher and purer life, neither mentally nor physically. Our ideal is to make a beginning of liberation in this very life and to make the best use of the time that is given to us.
THE LORD’S GRACE
The Grace of the Divine comes to a person in the form of self-effort, in the form of the will to strive for something higher and more permanent than all these phenomena.
Some speak of destiny, others speak of self-effort, while again others hold, “Yes, it is true that everything depends on the will of the Lord, but the Lord desires that | should strive my utmost. Self-effort comes to me as a manifestation of my ‘destiny’; it is the will of the Lord that creates in me the de- sire for striving”. But without purity and real, unfeigned dis- passion there can never be any spiritual life, or even any deep spiritual striving. Unless we strive our very utmost and our best, the Lord’s Grace will not descend on us.
CONTROL THE MIND
What is most essential in all forms of spiritual life is to keep the greater part of the mind thinking of God, thinking of the Ideal, and never to allow it to give its thoughts entirely to the world or worldly affections and relations even when occupied with some worldly duty. We must know how to divide the mind to some extent, so that we can make one part of it cling to the Lord and to the Lord alone, whatever be our occupation.
Through constant practice, through unflagging practice, we may develop an attitude of mind that enables us to think and to feel that whatever we do is a service to the Lord, and that we have no right to the fruits of any of our actions. “O Lord, whatever works | do, | look upon it as a form of worship to Thee.” This service may be physical, intellectual or spiritual.
Watch the reactions in your mind brought about by certain people and things, and act accordingly. Avoid everything that is apt to rouse old, evil impressions and thoughts belonging to your former life. We cannot allow ourselves to run after worldly love and affections and have the higher Divine Love at the same time. God and worldly affections cannot live together.
We should have the ideal fixed that neither worldly nor heavenly pleasures are our goal, that our ultimate goal is Self-realisation—neither this world nor heaven, nor any other world. Heavenly enjoyment is no better than earthly enjoy- ment, and so long as there is hankering after heavenly enjoy- ment, we can never attain the goal. We must yearn for God more than for His creation either in heaven or in earth. Before we actually begin our spiritual life in real earnest, we must decide if we are really fully prepared to pay the price. We must fix once for all our ideal, our conduct of life, and everything, and then stick to it in all circumstances. If we wish to transcend all the unrealities, there must always be a certain amount of dare-devil in us, a certain amount of fearlessness and true heroism. Unless we are prepared to sacrifice all our worldly desires and our sense of, ‘I-ness’ we can never hope to realise the higher ideal. “Give us discrimination, give us renunciation, give us devotion and know- ledge”—let us pray thus to the Divine.
You must never associate too freely with people and must always use discrimination. If another person attracts you, just direct the mind into some higher channels, create in yourself some dislike or disgust for the person in question, so that that person loses all charm for you. Later on this disgust is to be effaced so that you can look at that person with the same indifference with which you would look at a stranger you have never known. In spiritual life, although to a great extent you cut off your personal relations with others, you come to have a wider love and sympathy for them through the medium of the Divine. When one finds something higher, the lower ideal automatically loses its attraction, and is put aside. The We should also practise a certain amount of control and discrimination regarding the food we take. And so long as we are in the body, the body must be properly taken care of and nourished to keep it a fit instrument for realisation of the Divine and for the Divine’s work. There is much more body-con- sciousness in the person who is ill or weak than in the perfectly healthy and normal person. We have to see that our body-consciousness is reduced to a minimum if we want to make good progress in spiritual life. Unless our mind be to some extent pure and non-attached and prepared for renunciation, we can never even think of God-realisation. Try to purify your heart, to purify your mind, as much as possible. Then the blazing fire of spiritual realisa- tion will burn away all desires.