(Spoken on Swamiji's Amrita Mahotsava on April 25th, 1997 evening.)
In this spirit which I place before you, it is incumbent on the part of every one of us to live our life not only for our salvation, but for the similar fulfilment of everybody else, also. How are we going to do this? It is by intense discipline of consciousness, by tapasya.
The principle of divine living is tapas. It is a continuous effort from morning to evening, diligently, to offer the sense organs, as the Bhagavadgita puts it, as a yajna, in an act of self-restraint. All sadhana, all spirituality and religion, is summed up in the one word ‘self-restraint' – which means to say, the restraint over the arrogance manifested by the lower indiscriminate self defying the call of the higher spirit. Uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet (BG 6.5), says the Bhagavadgita. Let us live in our higher Self every day. Let us withdraw the lower self into the higher Self – not by rejecting it as an external object, but by sublimating it into the very substance of the higher Self.
The higher Self does not mean something very curious and abstract. It is to be understood properly. When you love your neighbour, you have touched your higher Self because the distance between yourself and the neighbour has been transcended by your love for the neighbour. The jurisdiction of the area covered by one's own self and the neighbour is not an empty space; it is the higher Self, because your love is nothing but your soul manifesting itself in the direction of the neighbour, such that the neighbour also enters into yourself. Immediately, the higher Self has manifested itself to the extent of the dimension of such an apparent distinction and distance between oneself and the neighbour.
Now, who is the neighbour? This question was put to Jesus Christ: Who is the neighbour? Well, he has his own illustrations like the Good Samaritan, etc., but there are more things about it than we can conceive.
The wider is our capacity to manifest ourselves externally in the direction of what we consider as unrelated things, the more is the possibility of our touching the larger Self. The larger Self is not merely a widened form of ourselves, but a deepened form, also. It is not merely a quantitative expansion of ourselves, but a qualitative enhancement of our being. This is very important to remember when we love and work and sacrifice by way of self-restraint, because unless a person is restrained in the self, love is not possible.
Love does not mean attachment. It is a pouring of one's being into the being of another, so that the little being becomes a bigger being; but you must remember that it is a being, not a possession or a clinging. That idea must be shed very carefully. This requires a lot of discrimination and practice under the guidance of a good teacher.
This can go on expanding itself into larger and larger dimensions until it covers the whole creation. You can love the whole Self, the whole universe, but not as the universe that we are beholding with our eyes; the universe is your very Self itself, so that you think like the universe, act like the universe, and work like the universe. Here again the question of there being One Person arises.
Every day when you wake up in the morning, it is the duty of every seeker and humble follower of Sri Gurudev to think of God first, from where you have come. Do not jump up from the bed for tea or some snack, etc. There is no such hurry. Sit on your bed for a few minutes, and recollect what you have done yesterday and what you have not done yesterday; and if you have done something good yesterday, pray to God that you may do more of it today. If you have done something irrelevant yesterday, beg pardon for that, and repent for that mistake that you have committed, and tell God you shall not do that again.
With this little prayer, go on with your daily performance as a sacrifice. Do not consider work as a drudgery. Work is not a bondage. Work is a bondage only when you do not like to do it. When it is a spontaneity arising from your own feeling of necessity in the art of your own increased spirituality, work ceases to be work. It becomes a manifestation of your own self.
It is the Bhagavadgita's gospel to us that work can bind and throw us into the deepest nether regions, or it can raise us to Brahmaloka itself. Work done by ‘me', by this agent of action, is binding. But work as a manifestation of the soul inside is spiritual manifestation, an abundance of one's own being. All work should be a manifestation of what you are, and not what you think you are or what you possess.
What you speak, what you do, should be a direct manifestation of what you are. Do not speak what you are not, and do not think what you are not, and do not do what you are not. This is the greatest unselfishness of the spirit. You have to behave as you really are in the deepest corner of the abyss of your heart. In the early morning let this prayer be there, as it is necessary to participate in the evolutionary process of the cosmos: na hi kaścit kṣaṇam api jātu tiṣṭhatyakarmakṛt (BG 3.5). As long as this body is there, work is there, and it has to be done in the spirit of the need felt by this little part of the universal whole to participate in the universal activity. Work becomes worship in this sense.
The saying that work is worship is not merely a slogan. It is an expression of a great truth that work is a manifestation of one's being in the direction of the Great Being of universal activity. Then, do your work. Be happy. Speak kindly, always. Speak sweetly; speak measuredly. Do not use more words than what are necessary. Speak only when it is necessary for you to speak; otherwise, maintain silence, but be cooperative and understanding at every stage. Remember that life is an occasion provided to us for working in such a way that the entire sojourn here may become a returning process to the great Father of the universe.
Never go astray in the direction of the sense organs, in the sense of physical comfort, in the direction of the titillating joys modern gadgets are providing. Do not go on saying, “I want this.” There is no need of wanting anything. Seek, and you shall find it. Always there is a complaint. Why do you say that you are not having what you want? You shall get what you want. Because your wanting is so poor, the response also is very poor. Let there be a large and wide and spiritual asking, and if you are sincerely asking, it shall come to you.
So, there is an occasion for us once again here in this beautiful ashram on the bank of the holy Mother Ganga, a heaven created by worshipful Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, to make the best of this opportunity. Gurudev has been saying, “You lack nothing in this world. In this ashram, you lack nothing. There is perfect security, and everything that is needed for your spiritual life is here.” We have an unexpected, wonderful phenomenon here of the spontaneity of divine gift. In this manner cooperate, serve, love, purify, concentrate, meditate, and work for the realisation of God.