Life is too short to risk half measures


Certain other teachings come again and again and I’ve taken out examples of them. For instance, he will say this: “Life is too short to risk half measures, my beloved sons, and such an opportunity as you have been given is very rare. Take your life as one complete sacrifice, remember that since you have joined the Holy Yoga you have connected not only with your friends and relatives, but also with those immortal lords who grace Shri Kund (the spiritual centre) and indeed that your relationship with them is the chief factor to be borne in mind.” “I repeat, that a true yogi must be single-minded,” this is another passage, “If certain dogs can be so single-minded that they would prefer slow death by starvation to being separated from their masters, is it not also possible for man. If I may say so, be mad in this Yoga. Live the Yoga, dream the Yoga sleep the Yoga, eat the Yoga, walk the Yoga. Be Shiva, be the Holy Ganges.” Then in another place, “I warn you only against adopting half measures. Be prepared to walk on the edge of a sword. But the whole of nature cooperates with him who wants to know Atman, so what has he to fear?”

One can say, “Well, you cannot live like that.” And Swami Mangalnath speaks of this, he says: “You can!” You think, “Well, if the mind is transcended, how will the body keep going, how can people do a job, how could they cultivate the fields?” The answer which comes in a number of places is, that it’s no longer a human mind taking selfish decisions, but these are promptings and inspirations from the divine mind. When the human mind is transcended in samadhi, the divine mind prompts the actions of the body and the thoughts which no longer revolve around the small centre. You can say, “Well, you could not run a career like that.” But we have the example of Pundit Bajnath, a most successful and famous lawyer. He was one of the very distinguished Indians who was invited across to see Queen Victoria – a really great man. “Building up his career, he must have had to reduce his devotion to very limited time while he was learning law”. In the Shri Dada Sanghita in general there’s nothing said about the necessity for making a success of a career. When Shri Dada advises the boys he says, “Don’t become civil servants, don’t become merchants” – that was where the big money was, in the Civil Service and in trade – “Don’t become soldiers.” And he recommends them to learn how to farm efficiently and to become small-time builders in the small Himalayan state where they had been born.

You can say, “Well, the whole career of Pundit Bajnath, is telling us to go all out for making a success.” But if we read the words of Pundit Bajnath given to the Yoga disciples, he says on this very point, “Duty … is a demand made on us, by the Lord of the universe which in its highest form is expressed as a duty to know Him as He is, and help others in knowing Him. The one and only sovereign remedy for avidya (ignorance), which brings about the various forms of suffering, as well as joys which are the inevitable precursors of suffering, is a direct perception of the nature of the Self; and as this one perception includes within itself the fulfilment of all duties, whether civil, domestic, national or otherwise, to discover and experience it should ever the paramount concern in life. Those who postpone the purposeful search for the Ultimate Truth, or give preference to any other interest, whether individual, national or philanthropic, are sadly deluded. My children, if I were granted only a few moments of your company, I would say this: ‘Know Atman and stop all other undertakings’.”

Pundit Bajnath chaired a number of important commissions in India. Weren’t they undertakings? He says, “Know Atman and stop all other undertakings.” They were like a play of the Lord through him, and they were not commitments which could take him away from Yoga. Shri Dada recommends to a schoolmaster or a merchant, “He should take it that he’s in his position from his Karma and he should aim to work efficiently. But at the end of the day he should treat the world as if the world were dead, completely dead, not think about it anymore.” When Alnutt, who was one of his disciples and who was in charge of a railway station, said that the work was disturbing and interfering with his spiritual practice which was now very advanced, Shri Dada smiled and he said “Yes, but give your example for a few years more. While you have been in charge there have been no strikes, no quarrels, no drunkenness and your example is necessary. Then fulfil your spiritual wishes.” He did this not as a personal ambition but he continued just for a few years.

© Trevor Leggett

Titles in this series are:

Part 1: The Main Teachings of Shri Dada

Part 2: End ignorance or be engulfed by it

Part 3: Verily all this is Brahman

Part 4: Life is too short to risk half measures

Part 5: Flowers showered upon you

Part 6: The torch of Eternal Truth

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