The Spiritual Essence

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Ganga Darshan Vishwa Yogapeeth, Guru Poornima, July 2013

When do the spiritual traits take over the human life and guide the destiny of the individual? The soul which takes birth in this body is an extension, a part, an aspect of the supreme self pervading the entire universe, cosmos, creation. The nature of the supreme self is energy, and the nature of an individual spirit or soul is energy and sentience.

The universal spirit, the universal self, and the individual self both have the same traits just as water in a lake and water in a glass have the same essence. They are both H2O. The only difference is that one is in a lake and one is contained in a glass. swan-smiling-sivananda-in-backIn the same manner, the universal consciousness, the higher self, is all-pervasive and the individual self is a part taken away from the higher self and put in a container, like water from the lake is put in a container called a glass.

Just as water is put in a glass, the spirit which has separated from the universal spirit is put in a container known as the body. The nature of the quality, the trait, of the individual self and the universal self is one and the same: they are both luminous, they are both connected to truth, auspiciousness and beauty.

The six friends and the role of the guru

When we are born, just as family members welcome the newborn baby, prakriti has identified six people who will welcome the newborn baby. Those six people become the guide, the teacher, the friend and the associate of the newborn person.

These six friends are: kama – passion, desire, likes; krodha – anger, the aggressive nature; lobha – greed; moha – infatuation, attachment; mada – arrogance; matsarya – jealousy and envy, competitiveness. These are the six friends who assist the soul in its process of development in this world.

They make their office in the mind of the individual, so that any information that comes in is processed by these six people before you give your approval and sanction. Everything is processed by these six friends – the relationship between husband and wife, the interaction in society, and even the relationship between disciple and guru is processed by these six people.

These first friends have expectations, because they are made to give you happiness and pleasure and you expect that from them. They begin to expect support and comfort, happiness and contentment from all of your associations, because you have been told by your vasana, by your karma, that you can fulfil your desires through the people you meet.

As life progresses, you begin to realize that the six friends who have lived with you all your life are not your well-wishers. They have definitely motivated you to achieve greater things in life, but in the process they have removed the feelings of contentment, pleasure and happiness. There is more strife, conflict, and struggle and there is more suffering. As you mature, you realize that all the efforts, ideas, mentalities and perceptions that you have had until now are misguiding you.

When this awareness arises, due to passions, anger, greed, delusions, it makes you move towards your spiritual self. It is this thought that will take you to your spiritual self: “What can I do to become more peaceful, happier, and more creative? I struggle, I do everything, but I don’t find satisfaction or happiness.” The first indication of spiritual awareness comes when one is frustrated in life.

swan-pranam-to-guruIt is guru who teaches us how to connect with the positive emotions and positive thoughts. Therefore, the role of guru in the life of a spiritual aspirant is to teach the person how to overcome the influences of the six friends who have been with us until today, and who are now restricting and opposing our advancement in spiritual life.

Flowing like the Ganga

One has to simply flow: that is the skill one has to learn. I live beside the river Ganga, and I see her flow every day. She has been flowing for I don’t know how many centuries, and she will continue to flow for I don’t know how many more centuries.

There is a lesson to be learnt from the river and the flow of the river. The river is the only element on this planet which finds its own path without any effort. If liquid, if water, encounters an obstacle, it doesn’t crash against it, it just flows around it, under it, over it, and it passes it.

That is the lesson that I, Swami Niranjan, have learnt from my mother the Ganga, and I see the mistake every person makes because they don’t want to flow around anything or under anything or over anything, they just want to bash against the solid wall that is in front. I see this happen day after day, with every life, with every individual. There is no adjustment, there is no accommodation, there is no resilience in life.

This is the need everyone has – to flow with life and not confront life. It is a lesson we can learn from the river.