HOME

 

Activities
Center's Teachings
Sri Ramakrishna
Sri Sarada Devi
Swami Vivekananda
Books, Incense, Photographs and Videos
What's New
Website Contents

banmsg.gif (5778 bytes)

 

Spiritual Leader  stop.gif (845 bytes) Archive stop.gif (845 bytes) Meditation & Its Practices

 

MINISTER’S MESSAGE

(December 2008)

Stages of Devotion 

   “When I am conscious of my body, I look upon you as the Master and myself as your servant; when I am conscious that I am an individual soul, I look upon you as the whole and myself as a part; when I am one with the Atman, I look upon myself as one with you.” That was Hanuman’s attitude toward Sri Rama, the object of his worship.  

   Our idea about God depends on our idea about ourselves. Almost all of us feel that we are limited individuals, bound by body, mind and senses. For people such as us, devotion to a personal God with form and attributes is the logical way to progress in spiritual life. But there are a very few people who are pure in mind and free from body-consciousness from their childhood, and they alone are able to derive spiritual benefit by worshiping God without form. Sri Krishna makes it clear in the Bhagavad Gita that the ideal of a formless God is hard to attain for those who are embodied, or those who are bound by their body and mind (12.5). For them there is the path of devotion.  Assures Sri Krishna: “But those who consecrate all their actions to Me, regarding Me as the Supreme Goal, and who worship Me, meditating on Me with single-minded concentration—to them, whose minds are thus absorbed in Me, verily I become before long, O Partha, the Saviour from the death-fraught ocean of the world.” (12.6-7) Then follows a graded course of devotion in decreasing order of difficulty.

  

1. Fixing the mind and buddhi on the Lord  

    Sri Krishna teaches the first and foremost stage in devotion: “Fix your mind on Me alone, rest your buddhi on Me alone, and in Me alone you will live hereafter. Of this there is no doubt.” (12.8) The word used for mind is manas, which is the deliberative faculty in us. It comes into play when we examine the pros and cons of anything. Manas is characterized by restlessness, doubt, confusion, anxiety, emotions, and desires. It is usually outgoing, ever eager to attach itself to any of the five sense organs: the ears, the skin, the eyes, the tongue, and the nose. In turn, these organs are eager to be in contact with their corresponding sense objects. Fixing the mind on God involves the challenge of giving an inward turn to the outward-directed mind by repetition of God’s name, prayer, discrimination, meditation, study of sacred texts, and such disciplines. In his commentary on the Katha Upanishad (2.1.1), Sri Shankara compares turning the mind inward to reversing the current of a river. The task is as difficult, but grows easier with steadfast spiritual discipline. 

   Buddhi comes into play when we practice discrimination between the real and the unreal, good and bad, moral and immoral, and allow our thoughts and actions to be guided by the knowledge gained from such discrimination. Buddhi is also our determinative, or decision-making faculty, and the seat of our willpower and resolution. Buddhi awakens in proportion to the strength of our willpower. It remains dormant in those who are impulsive and indecisive, and indiscriminate in their thoughts and actions. Fixing the buddhi on God implies making a firm resolve to seek God alone as the supreme goal in life, says Sri Ramanuja. 

   “And in Me alone will you live hereafter”: The word “hereafter” is usually interpreted as “after the death of the body.” But Sri Ramanuja’s interpretation is as inspiring as it is logical: “You will live in Me from the moment you fix your mind on Me with the firm conviction that I alone am the supreme goal to be attained.”  (To be continued)

                                        — Swami Yuktatmananda


 

Spiritual Leader stop.gif (845 bytes) Archive stop.gif (845 bytes) Meditation & Its Practices

Copyright© 2008, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York.