Spiritual life

These discourses aim at the exposition of the easier aspects of the philosophy of spiritual life underlying in the old text called the Gita.

There are three cardinal doctrines on which the doctrine of philosophy mainly rests.

  1. That the spirit of man is a ray of the divine light.
  2. This ray is never dimmed, and whenever man likes, then by the practice of the Holy Yoga, he can turn into a conflagration of fire.
  3. That the force which narrows down the divine ray into mere sensual delight or limitations of an extreme nature is called ignorance.

If we understand these three postulates or cardinal doctrines of the Philosophy of the Gita, we will be able to follow the thought expressed now.

There is a guide, a way to the goal, and there is a traveler to the goal. Man is the traveler. Moral and spiritual truth is the goal. The path which man has to tread is either:

  1. the path of service
  2. or the path of contemplation
  3. or the path of controlling the vital forces
  4. or the path of devotion
  5. or the path of transcendental illumination.

By traveling one or more paths at the same time, man, the traveler, can reach the goal of spiritual perfection.

The path of service.

Not egoistic or nationalistic or narrow philanthropic service but service of God in man and lower animals. Setting aside one’s ego to offer service in the way of worship of the Lord, that is called real service.

It may be said also that those who make a noise about service, they do no good service at all. I do not call the tamer of the horse a great man. I am waiting to see the man who can make a dull horse an active horse, and he is a great man. The dull, the beginner, the poor, the ignorant have as much or perhaps more right to spiritual freedom and intellectual contemplation of the Lord as a philosopher has, therefore Shri Dada took it upon himself to raise the moral and spiritual state of the so-called untouchables of India.

The path of contemplation.

Contemplate what? To contemplate that I am the spirit which is a fragment of the divine universal, omnipotent, and omniscient.

That l am not the body and the mind. That I am innately ever free and perfect. This is the peak of contemplation, to acquire which many other contemplations have to be undertaken. Just think of Christ teaching, of Shri Rama in the forest wandering with Lakshman, and Shri Dada. There are many other kinds.

Contemplation is difficult, but it changes the life from sin. Whatever you contemplate, that your mind becomes and your personality. If you contemplate that you have committed original sin, you will remain only a sinner. If you contemplate that your destination is infinite love and infinite power, that your home is not this veil of the world, you will become that.

Why do we meditate on God as our real being? Because by so doing, we produce in us divine virtues and divine attributes.

The path of controlling the vital airs,

Pranayama, by means of breathing and other ways. I do not say it is not a path. It is a path, but it is full of greater dangers than any other path. In order to practice it, you need to live a special kind of life, special food, special place to sleep, or holy surroundings have to be of a special kind. You have to be all the time under the direction of a competent teacher. If you do it by reading books, you will very likely harm yourself. Very little or no profit will arise. I have often met men and women who have practiced it.

In no case have I found they had acquired any illumination except some temporary inner insight. Temporary and to a very great degree a danger to the nervous system. As long as one eats a little meat, sleeps on a cushioned bed, does not observe complete celibacy in thought, word, and deed, it will do no good and will remain a mockery.

Devotion is the easiest path.

There is no man who does not love or has not loved someone or something. We cannot all be Aristotles, but we are all by nature, lovers. Those who do not love higher ideals will begin to love their own selves. Vanity is a drawback of a colossal nature in the road to spiritual pefection.

Love should be dynamic and rise higher and higher. It is not bad to love a woman passionately, but why not love your mother first? Why should the object of love be something which today appears beautiful and there is no guarantee of the continuation of that beauty? We should love children, women, and then the truth, virtue, peace, and God himself. In this way, the love is to ride a staircase step by step. If a man in his youth really falls in love with a pretty figure and continues to do that, he is like a baby sucking his toe at 6 months and still sucking it at 20.

The human soul is ever-expanding, therefore, conscious living. It is necessary that our progress in love should be maintained daily. I was once connected with a great Chinese, not a great scholar, but his character was on the lines of Confucius. He told me, “I used to love four persons, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu. Soon after, I began to love principles from concrete to abstract, from principles to light. That is the progress of life. No worldly love will satisfy the soul of man which came from heaven and returns to heaven. Faust fell when he loved Margaret. The love of Helena also was incomplete.

In the end, he loved the principle of virtue and helped all mankind, and that brought him nearer to God through the agency of his angels. You may forget everything I say and will say, but remember this fact and make no mistake, love should be dynamic. Higher and higher and higher. The homing pigeons fly around and around and broaden the circles more and more, so should be our love. It is good to love one’s country, but it is bad to die a patriot. A man must be a lover of man in general and a lover of God. In fact, patriotism is a lower rung. Highest rung is the love of truth and goodness, and the embodiment of truth and goodness called God for transcendental illumination.

Transcendental illumination.

This is what Plato calls mysticism. In the philosophy of Plato, mysticism plays a most important part and it is the first greatest and perhaps incomparable mystic of Europe. Without him, perhaps there would have been no St. Paul and perhaps no gospel, except the fourth gospel. These whole discourses are filled with it. A man living in his family and entirely devoted to it cannot have spiritual illumination. It comes to one to whom everybody in the universe is his brother and sister. The invisible beings, the angels and cherubim also are extensions of his own self. This transcendental illumination if you want to understand it, read the doctrine of Plato.

Man has always sought the infinite from the gateway of the soul. The eyes are two gates, the finger is another gate, the skin is another. What does man look for there through them? Only tasty food? There is none which does not bore sooner or later. The same thing happens about friends unless one is a spiritual friend. The fact is that the soul of man through the gateway of the senses is seeking the infinite transcendental and it is what they call God himself. No man has been satisfied with anything finite. How true are the words of the Holy Chandogya Upanishad? He alone is happy who has found his lodgement in the infinite. Those who try the finite will never be happy.

If for husbands instead of thinking their wives their slaves, looked upon them as temples of God, their compassion, their self-sacrifice, endurance, if they are looked upon as attributes of God finding expression through the wife, she will cease to be a wife, and a boredom. There is only one way to keep the affection of those whom you love. You have to see the infinite in the finite. Attribute all you find good in any person to the presence of the infinite God in him and you are all right. If you attribute these things to that tiny little frame which will one day become toothless, eyes petrified, ears deaf, they will be only charming if you attribute them to God.

The same applies to literature. Voltaire could not read Hamlet. Though at first he was very fond of it, but the stories of the birth of Christ, the Gita, is each time new. There you find reflected the infinite through the finite or adopt the spiritual point of view that there is no delight in the finite. Love the infinite and see it reflected in the finite. Love the rays of the moon coming through the cloud and when the cloud passes away, the rays will be still with you. The touch of infinite life must make all the chords of our life vibrate in love and knowledge.

Sit in relaxation in the summer, taking the holy name of God. We imagine that our mind is Jesus. Eyesight is Jesus. The beats of our heart, our soul is Jesus. If we melt away in Jesus, our whole being will vibrate with love and joy. The Greeks have said, “Everybody loves a lover.” It is this kind of lover that everybody love. Man seeks the infinite through the gateways of the soul. Philosophy, the highest mode of living, science, religion, art, and poetry are in fact, urges towards the comprehension of the infinite.

When you start a fire, first of all, you see a little gleam, then a little flame, then a great fire. With that, you can set the world on fire. Human life has many layers. We cannot live only in the eyes or ears. When it lives in the intellect, it is called the life of philosophy. Hegel says that the highest joy in life is that of philosophy. I think it is. The highest joy I have found in the life of limitations in concrete things has been the joy of playing chess. There you deal with some things which are symbols, and there is no personality or emotions there. It is pure intellectuality. You use the symbols and dash them, match on, and in fact, you are where you were.

It is the world. If I take the whole world as a chessboard, and each and every move is of chess. If you can study philosophy every day, it will keep us away from many mischiefs, vainglory, obstinacy, vanity, arrogance. They are stumbling blocks on the way to happiness, and they can become reduced to a minimum. Science leads us, but seems cold. Religion is a combination of philosophy, science, and art. Not religion in the crude form in which Heraclitis conceived it, but at least in the form in which Socrates, Plato, St. Paul, St. Augustine, and others have conceived it.

The urges towards the comprehension of the infinite, man has come out of the infinite. He lives in it and must daily rise into it. What shows us a little glimpse of the infinite, we like it. When we become oblivious of our individual personality, we are on the border of the infinite and are happy. People are never happy, who are always conscious of the body, mind, property, strength. Those men and women who want to remain beautiful for a very long time, they can’t. If they want infinity, they should forget the body and remember the spirit. They will not need cosmetics or to iron their hair, which will curl of itself.

There is the man of the head, man of the limb, and the man of the soul. First is an intellectual, often like Napoleon or Hitler, becomes a war maniac. There are great men of the head, like St. Paul, but they are pure personalities. Not wrapped up in love of their smoky substance. The man of the limb is called the man of action or prefers action. The East prefers contemplation. There are many in the middle who prefer power, glory, and expansion in the world of the three dimensions, men of philosophy, men of service, and men of yoga. The man of yoga is the man of soul. Soul is the most important element in the human personality. Let a man become a man of the soul.

Soul consists of infinite knowledge, infinite love, infinite power, infinite compassion. Those who are devoted to this ideal are called yogis and are men of the spirit. That country is great in which this kind of men are found.

16.10.46. This is page five. As long as a man says, “I fall in love,” he falls. The object of love is to lift him. Love of knowledge, truth, the beauty originally from the old source, the spirit of man. Love of freedom. Not the pseudo-freedom of politicians, but the real spiritual freedom. To a free man, the mountain may be brushed away by a puff of wind of a child, but he will not give up the course of virtue.

No aversion to anybody.

These things are paired together. If you will have a love for anybody, you will have to hate. This worldly love leads to hatred, jealousy, and so forth. There’s not much difference between love and hate. It is the same principle of the mind, somewhere overt and somewhere covered. Three, aversion. No aversion to anybody. These things are paired together. If you will have love for anybody, you will have hate. This worldly love leads to hatred, jealousy, and so forth. There is not much difference between love and hate. It is the same principle of the mind, somewhere avert and somewhere covered.

Who teaches us to hate any nation in the world? The Nazi leaders were busy, exciting cases of misled lunatics who became slaves. I think of their power and how they used wrong methods to obtain that power. There is no need of aversion.


A friend came to me with an aversion against his wife. There was a time when he called her the whole world. I told him, “Go and buy the best present you can and find the faults in yourself and not her.” He did it, when I met him again, he was really grateful. Therefore, the Yoga-Shastra says that aversion is a great enemy as is love also.

Blind stupidity.

Deliberately shutting our eyes to the dictates of wisdom and taking refuge under materialism, skepticism, hedonism, pragmatism, and eventually also rheumatism. Five, the other offshoot of false knowledge is vikalpa. It means imaginary imposition of ideas, devoid of substance as the son of a barren woman, the flowers in the sky. The spirit has no attributes and to think of him in terms of attributes is also this imaginary imposition. Spirit is not subject to birth and death, does not delight nor hate, knows no limitations.

Another expression of false knowledge is sleep. Sleep is that principle in our mind, which for its object, pure absence. In sleep, you are conscious of nothing but of absence of being, abhava.

There are three kinds of sleep. One, harmonious, sattvic. Two, disturbed by nightmare, by fancy, rajasic. Three, inert or death-like sleep, tamasic. There is the negation of memory in sleep, and it is the consciousness of the negation of memory. What is memory? Memory is also an offshoot of false knowledge because you do not need memory of what is true.

The characteristic of truth is that it is never forgotten and it is not subject to memory or to forgetfulness. Memory is the retention of the experienced object. Remembrance of what is, what is past, remembrance of dreams. Memory is of pleasure and of pain and of ignorance. Attachment to those pleasures, aversion follows pain. Anything that causes you pain, you begin to hate it. I had a mathematical teacher who failed to explain algebra. I did not do them correctly. He pinch my ears and hit me. We all had an aversion to that teacher. Ignorance is the stuff of which both pleasure and pain are made.

This is an analysis of mind. If you have learned it, you can hold your own with any psychologist of Europe, from St. Augustine to now. It is also the fundamentals of the epistemological department of ontology. You have to get away from all these things in order to come to the good, as Plato calls it in his philosophy. Veils after veils are torn from the face of reality, even beauty, and truth. Then when all the veils are torn away, he finds the supreme good, which is the God of the philosopher Plato. We have to restrain all these functions of the mind. Highness, hate, love, memory, right cognition, and wrong cognition.

He must eat the right kind of sattvic food and then comes the moral discipline, which is, first of all, love of truth. That contains all. The word has been banished. It is not uttered in the security council. Today a rule is made and tomorrow there are loopholes. If we sacrifice truth, truth will sacrifice us. The highest moral discipline is love of truth. Mystic life is not possible as long as the soul is dull and restive. In this house of yoga, we train dull minds to appreciate highest truth and allow the mind is the greater is the possibility of the highest truth. It submits itself to the holy good of Shri Dada.

Two things the soul has to rid itself of. Dullness and restiveness, and then to the infinite. Faith, stronger and stronger. Increasing hope is essential. Courage. Words are from Shri Rama Tirtha, that morning, when we started from Lakshmanjhula, either the crown or the grave, nothing between. When the faith is dim, a man is, as long as he has faith, he is alive. Though he may die, he will speak through millions of tongues of fire that will arise from his grave. Every atom of his cremated bones will be turned into a tongue of fire. These are not hyperbolical expressions, statements of truth. The impulses of the rajasic and tamasic time are not helpful.

There are three things having ropes around the neck of the soul, trying to drag it. Laziness, activity, hedonism or joys, philanthropy, virtue, and so forth. When we have conquered the three, we have made the soul free. The being must vibrate with the harmony and rhythm of sattva. Our being should be so steeped in benevolence, in compassion, in general sympathy to every living being, devotion to God, and truth. These attributes vibrate through every pole of our body. Then we know that the spring of illumination is near, the rainbow is to appear, the milky way is inviting us to take a walk and see the regions above it. The regions of perpetual bliss and harmony.

© Trevor Leggett

Previously called “Spiritual life”



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